An Undeserved Love

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Mark 10:17-22

As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before Him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. you know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.”
‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’
Jesus looked at him and loved him.
‘One thing you lack’, he said, ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. The come, follow me.’
At this, the man’s face fell. he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
—-

A few months back I was visiting a church in a small suburb of Cincinnati. I was ushered around the church in a spur of the moment tour.

I was told how the building is a city landmark and of the recent remodeling and modernizing of the sanctuary and meeting areas.

At one point in my Christian life I would have listened attentively and gasped in exclamation of the work this church had completed. However my mind wandered as he spoke of the church only being able add genuine marble to walls and pillars as if they had failed somehow. The giant translucent cross on the stage was hand carved into one solid piece of precious stone and lit with color LED lights.

As he went over a small list of the remodeling and additions I couldn’t help but notice after living in this city for year I had never heard of it. Later I asked dozens of homeless individuals, children in foster care and others I work with. But no one had heard of it.

Jesus, being approached by this man we have dubbed “The Rich Young Ruler”, notices one thing at the forefront of the conversation. The mans definition of Good is very twisted. But even still he kept the law. He did what was written. He was successful.

Jesus told him he’s lacking something bigger; giving.

Most of you reading the beginning of this stood where I stood. We gathered a distaste for this church. I wanted to hate them. Money going into the walls (literally) and not into the community of where it’s needed.

What hit me was how Jesus reacted to his “wrongness.” He was wrong, he was lacking, and Jesus said so.

But what reaction do we see from Jesus?

Subtly it’s written, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

It’s easy to say we wanna love the misfits when we are misfits. But to extend our love to those of pious living, selfishness and hate… That is a true test of faith.

I walked out of that church that day and loved what they were creating. One thing they lacked, but I looked at them and loved them.

Scars

Scars can be painful, what I mean to say is that scars can ultimately be full of pain, even after the incident occurs.
Scars don’t solve, they usually are prone to bring more questions to the surface. Scars don’t resolve, they often offer more confusion, and the questions begin to follow.
Why me?
Why not him or her, or them?
Or even why, just why?
What often happens is that a scar or event can become part of our physical, spiritual or emotional makeup. We let this tragic event in so much that it becomes part of us. That ugly event, that moment of hurt is now a part of you.
I love the phrase, “light of the world.” I do however think it is a little lost on this society. The light of the world isn’t a lamp or light. (Matt 5:14)
What is it that lights up the world? Stars. Stars light up the natural sky and the world around us. Stars would have been the light of the world.
Stars are made from gaseous explosions and collisions of elements. What we are looking at are bruises of the universe. We are gazing at the travail of the worlds around us.
Let me put it this way, stars are the scars of the universe.
A star is the result of something that couldn’t make it, couldn’t contain itself so it combusted; stars are the wounds of the worlds.
Just as these stars that surround us I bet you have some scars, some physical, some spiritual, some mental and some emotional.
My arms are filled with visual reminders of the physical pain I inflicted on myself in my teen years, over 15 years later they are still there for the world to see. I used to cover my arms, I used to be ashamed but now I have a beautiful story of triumph and overcoming to tell. My scars contribute to my beauty.
You and the wounds you carry are very much like those stars we stare at, I would challenge you to think twice about the way you look at your own scars. There can indeed be beauty in devastation.
We don’t look at the stars in the universe and say how tragic they are, how bruised they are, even though that is what they are. We look at them and speak of the beauty they contain. The inspiration they give us.

Even though stars are the scars of the universe we don’t see them as these broken pieces of gaseous matter, we see them as these majestic astrological blessings that give hope to billions.

What if you saw yourself in that same light, or better yet what if you saw others in a similar way; beautiful despite…? Or as Jesus calls each one of us to shine, inspire and offer light, despite….

–Taken from Ricky’s new book Barefoot Christianity available now wherever books are sold.

Reflections of God’s greatest Artwork

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For as long as Man has existed there have been metaphors to explain the relationship between man and God. The one metaphor I personally enjoy is God as a type of artist.

In the Bible we see references and explanations of God as a poet, as an artist, as a painter, as a sculptor and as a potter.

God is not solely an artist, But God at this moment in your life may be acting as an artist.

In keeping with that characteristic of God we must remember the work of an artist, sculptor, painter or potter is not finished until the artist says it is finished. God has not finished his work in you yet. This is a beautiful word for where a lot of us are at right now.

God’s work in me is not done yet. God’s work in my life is not done yet. God’s work in my ministry is not done yet. That the work that God is doing in my family is not completed yet. The work that God is doing in my doctrine and my theology, in my life is not finished yet. The Bible exclaims this theme by stating, “He who began a good work in you… Will carry it on to completion.” (Philippians 1:6)

Also it is important to remember that the beauty of a work of art is only relative to the beauty that the artist sees in it. Onlookers may not see the same beauty that the artist sees. What may look as a blemish to some, to the artist it is a perfect representation of his imagination.

What may look like a blemish in your life may be God the artist’ inspiration and imagination coming to life. That bad attitude, that impulsive nature, the OCD or ADD isn’t a blemish on the artwork that is you, it is a representation of God’s divine imagination.

You are an artwork of the creator. Some may stare and not get it.
Others may mumble and rant about the seemingly slight imperfections.
But you are a culmination of God’s imagination.

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Following Jesus, this Rabbi from Nazareth was of the utmost importance to these teens and young adults he called disciples, each of whom came from every existence at the time.

Some of these followers left family, some left lovers, others left jobs and some were rejected by the world around them. These men and women knew what it was like to be unwanted and alone.
At times, we see them exhibit that following Jesus was more important than funerals of family members, more important than having any possessions and more important than life itself. (Luke 9:61)
Following this Jesus was so important to these young men and women that they would neglect everything so that whatever Jesus was doing at the moment would be the one and only focus in their daily life.

I can make that statement fully confident that this was the mindset of many of Jesus’ followers.
I can see that same passion with teens from every denomination in Christianity.
But wait, I can also see the same passion with Buddhist, Muslim and Mormon followers. It’s limitless; the passion exhibited is something that seems to be universal and not exclusively tied to Christianity or followers of Jesus. We have even pondered how serial killers and cult leaders could also have similar dedication from their followers. So following Jesus must be about something more than just walking a similar path he did.
In fact, we see this passion in music scenes that have risen in the past such as Jazz, Hip-Hop, Hardcore and more. We have witnessed that all have followers that exhibit similar passion.

In these times of confusion, I love to dive into the wisdom that is the historical writings of Judaism. For me, the wisdom hidden in many early Jewish writings is a daily inspiration and guidance and more-so, knowing Jesus searched for the same wisdom in his life.
One of the Hebrew words used for following someone in the Torah, which is the name for some of the Jewish scriptures or the Christian Old Testament, means to follow after and carry something.
This is insightful and easy to pass over, as with much wisdom that presents itself in life.

When they spoke of following someone, it didn’t stop with following after someone but they insisted something would have to be carried. Following was not just about walking after someone.

The illustration we are beginning to see is that if someone follows a person or idea, they begin to carry what they are following or they begin to carry something the person they are following is carrying.

The Christian journey as it has evolved has also changed in its idea of what being a follower of Jesus really means.

I mean this not as an insult but an accountable observation. In our western churches, it’s often rare to see a church take place in a public place or common area.
Padded pews are a luxury of the Jesus follower of the past. We now have booming mega churches, media software that out-does most organizations, church brand coffee, bands that are composed of award winning musicians and sound systems that put arenas to shame.
Is this what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Come follow me”?

Are we carrying the same passion and call Jesus did when he walked the earth? Is his burden our burden?

Are you following Jesus empty handed?

Adapted from Barefoot Christianity coming next Tuesday!

facebook.com/barefootchristianity

Thanks Giving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving for many and for many of us it has become a day of the year we try to remind ourselves of the blessings we have received.

The word Thankful in Hebrew is yadah and means to throw something back.

In this holiday season present and coming that primarily are about money being spent for food, gifts and Decorative’s let us remind ourselves to give back out. See, being thankful isn’t about showing an emotion and being humble for a day, it’s about giving back out or as the Hebrew word illustrates to “throw back out.”

Your blessings can only be blessings if they don’t end with you.

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My thanks for 2011

First of all I am thankful for my family. My mother who is battling cancer and glaucoma and still standing. My brother Allen who is returning the gift he experienced as a youth by leading teens and standing with them. Most of all my kids who mean the world to me and Liz.

I am thankful for the multiple jobs I work, even though I work more than last year, it is so much less stressful.

I’m thankful for my house. I’m thankful for my friends. Most of all I’m thankful to be able to share my writings with all of you and I’m thankful for this year being so successful in my book projects. (I have so much better planned for next year!)

Lastly and most fitting. I’m thankful for my beliefs. My doubts, my fears and my struggles. I’m blessed to have so many people walking with me on this spiritual journey. These past three years have been crazy, hell and full of so many ups and downs but as one wise women told me, “thank and do.”

I wish you all happy holidays in all your endeavors and traditions. I pray that this season speaks to you and blesses you.

I Love and cherish you all.

Ricky Maye

if you haven’t picked up a copy of my new book please do.

http://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Spirituality-Spiritual-Revolution-ebook/dp/B005G7U034/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1322079016&sr=8-4

Fondling the Hell out of people

Those broken days… I remember vividly the dark cloud that seemed to follow overhead. The headaches, the rain; I can’t seem to forget those sh!tty days.

Being a part of churches so long, I understood how to fake a happy face and that “I’ve got it all together” swagger. Oh, but when they would find out my misery!

I got bible verse after bible verse, because nothing pays an overdue bill like a King James scripture.

I received kind words like it was a prescription. If Miss Joanne saying “It’s gonna get better baby”, or Pastor Joe chiming in “It’s in God’s hands” didn’t solve everything, they wouldn’t hesitate to offer those same kind words at the same time tomorrow; maybe in a double dose.

Unlimited well-wishes and robotic, somewhat programmed, kind phrases are all great… However, they lack realness and seemingly have little sense of reality.

There is something wrong when, once we come into contact with a broken, homeless or hopeless soul, we simply offer a little change or, even worse, a bible tract. Nothing better than a bible tract roasted with my secret marinade!

I don’t think this is the type of compassion Jesus had in mind. The compassion we see exemplified in Jesus’s life was almost intimate.

The Hebrew word for compassion is רחם (racham) and is defined as “to fondle”.

The implications to what real compassion looks like are unfathomable… and kind of dirty.

Compassion now is more personal. Compassion beforehand could have been generalized as giving change, offering help, even pity; all nice gestures, although very impersonal and lack the sort of intimacy we see with the life of Jesus.

The word fondle brings a picture of lovers with a fiery, passionate flame overcoming them… so much so that they can’t keep their hands off the other.

What if this kind of passion was exhibited… a kind of compassion that brings you into a spiritual and mental relationship with that person.

To be continued.

Next Part will be up tomorrow

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Let’s Talk About Sex (And Compassion)

Let’s talk about sex (and Compassion)

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Larry Flynt at one of his Hustler stores and the creator of Girls Gone Wild Joe Francis on one occasion a few months back

We shared words of wisdom and Love together and I realized that these guys are not the enemy I had once believed and once was taught.

Around five or six years ago I would have been one of those protesting someone sitting down with Larry Flynt, today I’m walking down a different road. Now I am the one sitting down with people like Larry Flynt.

I’ll get to what we talked about after I share with you a few misconceptions and ideas about sex. The Bible consistently brings up two distinct ways to apply a word, scripture, teaching and so on. The first is the physical and the second is the spiritual.

The word sex can be found to be defined as, “to amputate, or to cut off.”

So the physical act of sex is an intimate encounter reflecting in intercourse. The spiritual aspect is an encounter that is intimate in a different nature.

This spiritual aspect of sex is a giving up not a giving in. It’s a handing over rather than a handling.

Speaking of handling, the Hebrew word used for compassion is racham and is defined as, “to fondle.”

Now compassion can join our conversation, because it is just as dirty and raw as this discussion. Compassion is less of a social justice, humanist word and now a word describing an intimate encounter of aid and help.

The word fondle brings back memories of new lovers who can’t keep their hands off each other for me, I would bet it’s similar for you.

What if compassion took on this same intensity? We couldn’t help but help those in need; we couldn’t help but to console the hurting.  We couldn’t help but hold the broken. We can put the passion back into compassion.

Feelings and emotions erupt and display when you have given yourself in a spiritually intimate way, just as when you give yourself in a physically intimate way. Now your defensive for that person, now you have a Love for that person that can’t be put into words, and when that person hurts, you hurt.

We can go much farther into this and I may do that in a future book or blog.

The lesson we can gain is that people are not numbers, accomplishments or notches on our spiritual belt. They are people in need of something more than a bag of rice or a couple of bucks in change and some pocket lint.

We have the opportunity to have a spiritually intimate encounter with each person we come into contact with.

Later I’ll post the interviews but from the both of them but I gained a sense of insecurity from both. Even through these generations sex hasn’t been the answer for them it’s led them to more questions.

As we discussed sex means giving a part of yourself, this is why when he isn’t being faithful if feels like your involved in the “others” sex acts, or when she begins her adulterous performance in that hotel in Reno you might as well have been there, because it sure as hell felt like it.

Be careful with your partners, you have them with you, treat everyone with respect and love so much it creates life.

Lastly I would like to say when I met Joe Francis it was something last minute, but when I say down with Larry Flynt there were a few people who were condemning this man to hell. Let me tell you I had spiritual conversations with both and you’d be amazed at what these men have in their hearts. Instead of picking up stones and signs and bibles. Just talk and walk with these men, really they are all on the same journey as all of us.

*My newest and first full-length book is out now for digital download for the Kindle, Nook and iTunes. It is Available for purchase through http://www.rickymaye.com and by the end of the month will be available via amazon.com and bookstores near you.