Love isn’t Romantic

“I’m not in love with Jesus,” Pastor Jeff Lucas stated in his charming British accent at the pastor’s conference I went to. He went on to explain – I love Jesus, but Biblical love isn’t primarily romantic. I personally don’t have a problem with the phrase, “in love with Jesus,” because it’s simply expressing in imperfect terms the state of a person’s devotion to God. However, he’s right in that, love from Father God, flowing through us to our world isn’t primarily romantic.

Love isn’t romantic . . . primarily. I mean it can be romantic, but romantic love is a very small part of Biblical love. In fact, the Bible rarely uses words for love when talking about romance. The words we translate “love” are used almost exclusively for sacrificial love, brotherly love, familial love, friendship love and love between believers. Love from our Heavenly Father, sending Jesus to the cross so that we don’t have to die eternally is beautiful, because it’s sacrificial.

Romantic love, although it can be wonderful, doesn’t ascend to that level of impact that sacrificial love ascends to. In fact, in a romantic relationship, the best and purest parts are sacrificial. So it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and instead of longing for romance, why don’t you extend authentic sacrificial love to someone in your world (A huge tip, an offer to help, a world-changing prayer, an encouraging word/note). John said, Dearly loved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11) He made the first move, calls you loved; so receive His love now, and give Him away.

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How to Connect with the Holy Spirit

“What are you doing?” She says. “I’m rubbing your back, thought you could use a pick me up,” he happily replies. [Awkward Pause] She’s glaring at him, he’s NOT getting the hint to stop. This is a familiar scene in marriages, because we give and receive love differently. Gary Chapman’s famous book The 5 love Languages, outlines different ways in which people give and receive love, and we typically give love in the language that we receive love, but that provides so many opportunities for disconnect.

Holy Spirit is very understanding, He understands that we don’t always communicate with Him in the best ways, YET relationship requires that we learn and grow in communicating with each other. So here are some steps in growing in communication with the third person of the Trinity, God on earth now, your mentor, comforter and advocate, Holy Spirit:

  1. Address Him by name – “Holy Spirit, thank you for being with me now . . .” There is no more beautiful sound to a human than their own name, and though the Holy Spirit does not NEED it, WE NEED to acknowledge Him more by name. It is a step toward coming into the awareness of His presence constantly.
  2. Speak His language – anyone who’s learned a second language well knows the process can be grueling and must be worth it to find motivation. Holy Spirit took the time to learn your language and He speaks it fluently, isn’t it time you learned His? If you’ve ever been in a place where you don’t speak the language, there is something refreshing about hearing someone communicate in yours. Refresh the Holy Spirit, learn His language.
  3. Tune your life to His rhythm – after you begin to speak His language, you will realize that He has a different rhythm than you. Spirit inspired language will reset your life rhythm when you’re doing it right – you’ll get excited about what He’s excited about, grieve what He’s grieving, love what He loves, etc. He is gracious to often reach out to you in your rhythm, but His rhythm is better, what if you reached out to Him in His rhythm?

Take a moment right now to connect with the Holy Spirit, “Holy Spirit, thank you for coming to meet with me right now . . .”

Staying on Fire for God

Naiveté is super fun until it’s not. An old comic strip said, “If ignorance is bliss then he’d be a blizzard.” It was super fun for my 9 year old to take his gloves off yesterday to play in the snow (despite our instructions) UNTIL IT WASN’T! When he came to the back door distraught, crying and in pain with his hands red mid-way up his forearms, Jessica was able to tell him as she ran his hands under warm water, “This is what the beginning of frostbite looks like,” (Aaahhhh!)

So you’ve either had this revelation (probably painfully!) or maybe I can save you the pain right now, passion and fire for God is not self-sustaining. Paul says, “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.” (Rom 12:11 NIRV) There is work to be done to keep any fire and passion alive – in marriage, in your work, in hobbies, and definitely in your relationship to God.

Don’t follow your heart, tend to your heart. Follow God’s heart and allow Him space in your heart to constantly create new passion for Him. If you’re bored with your devotional life, God probably is too; but there’s good news. He’s a creative artist and He has infinite possibilities for recreating that space where your passion for Him can thrive in line with His Word. Your heart will lead you to a passionless, destructive life, it is, “deceitful above all things.” (Jer 17:9) However, God has creative good for you, and His will for you is to be on fire for Him.

What if you could pray WITH God?

2018 is over – K BYE – haha! 2019 is here – Happy New Year! There is a smorgasbord of options for what to focus on, do, or shoot for this year. I truly believe that one factor will set your year apart beyond any other, and make the greatest difference in your life – learn to pray WITH God!

Heaven is filled with prayers. They go up before God like incense (Ps 141:2, Rev 8:4). I’m sure SOME SMELL BETTER than others. Both Jesus (Rom 8:34) and Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26) are praying for us – I’m sure their prayers smell sweet and amazing to God, but so many of us are praying TO God – from our own whims, desires and wants. But what if we could pray WITH God? Pray in accordance with His will the same prayers that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are praying? Then your prayer might stop smelling like flatulence in the throne room, and add value and glory to God’s domain. Do you think God is more likely to answer those prayers?

This First Wednesday (Jan 2 @ 7 PM), we are going to learn to craft prayers that smell sweet to God, by praying along with Him. Please join us in person if you’re in the Lansing, MI area or online (journeylifechurch.com/ live-stream-1) if you’re not in the area – this is the breakthrough you need in 2019!

Consolation Prizes

“A purple ribbon!?!” I could feel the tears welling up as my 8-year-old mind tried to process losing. The purple ribbon was the one no one wanted, the slap in the face, the kick to the groin. Mortified, I tried to hide my reaction from everyone! It was as if a million condescending hands were patting my head at once, “Good try, little buddy.” Consolation prizes are a momentary feel good at best. For the one kid that was super pumped that they got a ribbon, there were 3 of us who wanted to get swallowed up by the floor. We would rather have gotten nothing and enjoyed the anonymity of losing. But it wasn’t to be.

Jesus compares earthly wealth to a consolation prize, “Woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24 NKJ) In other words, all the wealth that the richest people in history amassed amounts to a pat on the head and a purple (you stink at this) ribbon in eternity.

Listen, I don’t believe that Christians cannot be wealthy. God has used many wealthy people to get glory in His world. At the same time, turn your focus from earthly blessing to eternal blessing and your life will be worth more than a consolation prize. How can you bless God today? Take a moment right now to honor Him. How can you bless people today? Take a moment right now to encourage someone. Set your heart on God’s things right now (Col. 3:1), see Colossians 3:12-17 for a list of those things.

The Power of Weakness

You’ve had one of those days, right? A day where motivation is hard, little things annoy you, people seem like projects, projects seem like mountains, and every task you try gets harder. In the middle of one of those days, I heard God speak clearly in my spirit, “Strength . . . is only made perfect in weakness.” My mind quipped, “Well, I’ve got a boatload of weakness for you . . . so . . .” and then I stopped because, well, I was feeling weak – haha.

God was, of course, paraphrasing Himself (he’s allowed to do that) – in 2 Corinthians 12:9 He says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Then I looked at my to-do list again and thought, “If any of this is going to go well, it’s because You’re doing it.” And that’s when it made sense. There’s a humility only possible in that place in your spirit that says, “God, I know I can’t do this.” God’s gets glory in an essential way when we KNOW beyond a doubt that He’s the only source.

My strength gives me glory, but God’s strength makes me worship. Maybe you feel strong right now – know that your strength will always be incomplete without God’s glory. Or maybe like me you feel weak, this is your chance to lean fully on God’s power, and make Him look good. Either way, pray with me right nowGod, I give you the opportunity right now to get glory from my life. I lay my to-do list before you, and allow you to mess with it. I lay my strengths and weaknesses before you, I thank you for humility and Your power at work in my life today, giving you full access to get glory from me today, in Jesus name. Amen.”

Contagious

The garbages in my house have filled with tissues in the last couple weeks, as each person goes through a virus, or a seasonal allergy, or a reaction to the barometer change (I don’t know – my brother’s the medical guy, not me – haha). Whatever went through our house, it feels contagious (maybe), because it’s hit all of us in some sort of odd succession. That’s not fun.

But contagious is not always bad. In fact, laughter is contagious, yawning is contagious (which is a great trick for bedtime routine – hehe), quitting smoking is contagious (yep, if you want to quit, get around others who are!), and positive thinking is also contagious! Here’s the best one – THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS CONTAGIOUS!

What are the marks of the kingdom of God from Scripture? The presence of God, the supernatural words & works of God, healing, salvation, demons running away, repentance, right living, peace and joy (Rev 11:15, Matt 4:17, 23; 12:28; Rom 14:17 & so much more)! The kingdom of God is contagious! If your life is submitted fully to God’s rule then the kingdom of God is in you – YOU ARE CONTAGIOUS! That means the presence of God enters the room with you, supernatural breakthroughs are available through you, you bring people to salvation, demons run from you, and repentance, right living, peace and joy will happen to the people around you. The more people get into contact with you, the more they’ll experience the Spirit of God inside you!

We’re declaring and seeing healing in our house (because healing is contagious), and it’s time to give away your best contagions too – the kingdom of God is in you, and HE WANTS OUT! Give God’s kingdom away to someone right now. That’s right, take a moment – call someone, send an encouraging text, ask someone if you can pray for them.

Pure Joy

It was like an annoying symphony of generic ringtones, my phone, ipad and computer were all lighting up, buzzing and ringing at the same time! I knew it was an accident: butt-dialed, 2 yr old mischief, or fat-fingered the phone were the leading theories. My wife NEVER Facetime’s me first; it’s always a call or text first, then switch over. All that, and I answered anyway!!! Why???

I should say it’s because I love my wife (WHICH I DO!!!!), but that wouldn’t be accurate. Because I knew if it was a butt dial or a fat finger, she probably wouldn’t be there anyway. I answered on the off chance that my cute lil’ baby girl was sincerely trying to talk to her daddy! I interrupted my “very important” to do list to answer, because if there was any chance of hearing her voice, or seeing the top of her head or her shoes, that was going to bring me joy! “Hi dad-dy” she said, as I saw the top of her forehead, and part of her blurred thumb – pure joy! 

I wonder what God thinks when we call on Him! Did they butt-dial me again? They were probably just angry at that guy in traffic and slipped a little, or maybe that was a sneeze-blessing mention? I bet He listens anyway, why? On the off chance that His lil’ baby sincerely wanted to talk their daddy. Actually, I know He listens, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NIV)

God hears you! Take a minute and talk to Him on purpose right now. Your call is pure joy to Him!

Awareness

“Stop messing around, they’re looking!!!” My oldest brother’s loud hissing whisper, arrested the other two of us mid grapple, so we quickly stopped inflicting pain on each other, and sat staring back at our parents with the best angel faces we could make. They gave us “the eye” only to move easily back into their joyful conversation at the party. We didn’t dare mess around in the moments that ensued, knowing the consequences that inevitably would come if we caught their eye again. As long as I can remember, I could NEVER disobey when they were looking directly at me . . . OR was I looking at them? . . . I guess it was both really.

It was awareness. There is something powerfully motivating when you become aware of the gaze, the presence of God! Peter and John were so aware of God’s gaze they willingly suffered persecution in Acts 4:19, “Which is right IN GOD’S EYES: to listen to you, or to Him?” The presence of God is with us and many times we’re oblivious to it like Jacob, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it!” (Gen 28:16). God said He’d never leave you or forsake you (Heb 13:5) that you are the apple of His eye (Zech 7:2 – it’s a fun old phrase meaning He favors you/loves to look at you!)

God’s gaze is motivating, and it’s also delight-filled. When you become aware of His gaze it has the authority to convict you of sin, and the warmth of a comfy blanket. So take a moment, right now, picture God, lock eyes with Him – let Him convict you, let Him love you.

If I Could Turn Back Time …

I sat in my car replaying the situation, beating myself up over this giant missed opportunity! “What was I thinking??? How could I miss that???” Of all the things that I’ve regretted THIS ONE will stick with me, this is one I want to get deep in my psyche to produce a new pattern of behavior later.

I’ve regretted a lot of things in my life, soooo many. To admit mistakes is not weakness, but a springboard for growth. The Holy Spirit has a lifelong interest in your growth, so get over the illusion of perfection and let His loving conviction in. This regret stands out – I saw great financial need – I had in my pocket the ability to bless that person outrageously: a $100 bill. I felt God nudging me to give it, and I didn’t. I don’t know what happened – did my cheapskate side kick in? Was I scared to deal with the reaction? Was there a giant bag of candy I wanted more (that was probably it – ha)?

Obedience was so easy, but now there’s no going back. The moment is gone just like the 57 or so “fun size” Crunch bars I ate yesterday. So I repented. I want that memory to haunt me, I want it to create a marker in my brain so that joyful obedience is my instinct next time. If I could turn back time … well, I can’t … but with the Holy Spirit still tugging on my heart I know that marker in my spirit will have another opportunity to produce obedience. As for the Crunch bars, they might be less forgiving – ahhh.

So take a moment, turn one of your regrets into a marker in you mind for an obedient tomorrow and watch how the Holy Spirit uses it! It’s going to be fun!