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.
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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.

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The leading Father (A Fathers Day Post)

The leading father

Since my early days in church I’ve often been told I had to relate to God as a father. I just couldn’t…

See, I never knew my father, he caused my mother horrible pain and left our family to fend for itself excelling us into a deeper poverty and depression.

Amongst all of this constant struggle just for daily food and hoping for shelter in the coming months as bills piled up, in church I was told to pray to God, my ABBA father.

That word ABBA was foreign to me. Not in the sense of the definition, I just didn’t know what it looked like in human form. In my mind I didn’t see much of a difference between God and a deadbeat father.

Over the past decade my thoughts have changed. Now I want to share with you some insight about real fathers. I hate to disappoint you but this blog won’t be specifically tied to God being our father, I think he has a message for you today.

One of the Hebraic words for Father is אמן and is pronounced ‘aman.

The definition beautifully brings to mind the prefect expression of what a father is and can be.

The definition for the Hebrew word for father is one who offers his right hand.

This word father here is more than a person who works, provides and loves. This word father is about a person who seeks to lead, guide and walk with you.

I’ve never had a father. But I have been very blessed in my childhood to have many men and women come into my life to lead me and take my hand while on this spiritual journey and this life journey.

My hope on this day when we celebrate fathers we include those mentors, spiritual fathers and all who have had a hand in leading someone.

I am convinced that God loves puns when reading the Bible, and this Hebrew word used for father is ‘aman…or as our English eyes might see it, A Man. A man is someone who leads. A man is an example. A man is a guide.

Happy Fathers day to all the fathers

Low Life

Low life; a step into real Christianity.

The spiritual journey often begins low. More often in church height in spirituality is encouraged. More learning, memorizing and volunteering seem to be a sign of spiritual maturity.

However the message of Jesus tends to be focused on those that live low; those that give everything and those that have little left.

Jesus gathered his disciples to a field and gave them a raw word of direction. Jesus boldly proclaimed that the goal of everyone should be to take up their own cross and carry it. (Matt 10:38)

This is a call for hardship to be embraced and suffering to be celebrated, but it is also a call for each of us to journey lower.

Some see this as invitation to die with Jesus but that would be without reason, yes it’s a nice sentiment but not a reality. Us dying with him is less than void, his death is what mattered in regards to experiencing this eternal life God has in store for us.

We are not called to die on that cross but to carry it, to experience it, to journey with it.

The cross is heavy, it’s burdensome, and it is just plain lowly. When that cross is pressing down on our backs and we can’t stand anymore, we become low. This is spiritual maturity according to Jesus, not the heights of ordination, leading studies Bible studies or church attendance.

Mary thanked God for recognizing her low status when impregnating her with the divine seed. (Luke 1:48)

Embracing our low standings should not be our only goal. We should seek to take whatever good standings we have in money, talent and resources and share that with those who are in need of whatever we can provide.

Paul echoed this in his writings to the Romans when saying, “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.”
(Rom 12:16)

In some churches the goal is how high you can get; how many service attendees, how many financial pledges they can bring in. In contrary, the christian life cannot be lived in height but only in low stature.

Fondling the Hell out of people Part 2

-continued*

We started out with a new teaching from my next book about compassion. Compassion is often impersonal but that’s not the compassion we see exhibited through Jesus. The compassion we see from Jesus is almost intimate. The Hebrew word for compassion, as found in the previous blog, means “to fondle.”

The idea here is to bring passion back to compassion; not including change with change. Make every moment of compassion an intimate encounter.

I’ve seen a lot of hell just in the past few months. I’ve talked with Africans, Tai sex slaves, homeless across the country and the broken paycheck-to-paycheck residers. The culmination is all the same… we are all experiencing hell.

If everyone is dealing with hell in their lives, why is it that Christians, people who are supposed to bring life, want to give people more hell.

So I want to challenge you to do two things:

1. Love people and remind others to stop giving people hell; hell as a destination and as a situation. You may do this by using the hash tag #stopgivinghell. Even tell people to stop giving others hell. Life is hell enough for most of us.

2. Since we are all dealing with hell, remember this teaching of mine and share it. But most importantly, fondle the hell out of every person you can. I mean it! Fondle people with a type of compassion they have never seen before. Begin a passion for compassion in your community.

I’d like to end this blog… but we can’t. It will be continued with you. Make it a good story!

My New book An Emerging Spirituality is out now on the kindle for just .99 cents and 10.00 for a paperback.

http://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Spirituality-Spiritual-Revolution-ebook/dp/B005G7U034/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1319199495&sr=8-4

*If you Haven’t read the first blog, please do so this is the continuance.

Death Things (Just poke it!)

Over my years of contact and conversation with hundreds of people, I’ve often heard sentences that begin like, “It just died.”

Prefacing this I’ve heard everything from Marriages, spiritual lives and hopes that have died.

For century’s death has been a common metaphor for the hopelessness, pain and restlessness we often feel.

Have you ever woken up to feel broken, near death, but perfectly healthy?

When approached with death, Jesus tends to react in a way that boggles the mind.

 

In dealing with the death of the daughter of Jairus, Jesus says, “she’s not dead, she’s sleeping.”

 

I am seeing this as an invitation to think of death in a different manner than the current end of life state it’s been so far.

 

Death, as we spoke about at the beginning of this, is more than just dying physically.

 

We can all speak passionately about the subject of death despite some of us having little experience with people around us dying. This is because we’ve felt the death in a less lifeless way. We’ve experienced death in decaying dreams, in distant hopes and seemingly hopeless situations.

 

I’ve been there as I am sure you have too, I’ve had dead dreams, and I had dead relationships. It hurts and just as Jairus did, I want to scream, Jesus! It’s dead!

 

When Jesus encountered this situation revolving around death, his response was staggering, he said, this can be woken up.

 

That dead relationship, just nudge it a little.

 

Those dead dreams, just wake em up.

 

This is an invitation to not plan a funeral for those college classes, the business, that book.

 

Your dreams are not dead! They might be sleeping.

 

Whether or not we believe in this Jesus we can resonate with these words of hope because we all have some dead dreams.

Wake them up, they are not dead.

 

Baggage

Dual baggage.

A few years back I was on a flight to Michigan and I saw a weird act of kindness. While checking in at the self check in (because it’s quicker!)

I laid eyes on a family who was over their carry on baggage limit by one, and they were arguing about which would have to be checked.

A stranger behind them said, “I’m on the same flight I’ll take it. My ticket allows one more. Bag”

So he took it, later when boarding the plane, his laptop and bag took up his lap space while all the overhead compartments were full. He was in a predicament.

Now he was posed with the same question, “what are you going to check?”

The families baggage quickly became this mans baggage.

This was such a spiritual inspiration to me as I was being taught by God about forgiveness and dealing with baggage.

Biblical forgiveness

When we hold something, it’s a type of baggage in our lives. We have good and bad baggage, even good baggage can get heavy, meaning even when your doing good things, life can still become unbearable; people begin asking for more, people begin expecting more.

When we hold hurt, unforgiveness and grudges, we taking the hurt and pain of someone else and carrying it ourselves. If we let this happen a few times we begin to carry these huge bags with us everywhere.

Some of you are sill dealing with past hurts and you can feel it physically drain you, this pain and hurt can even kill you spiritually.

For you, this baggage is more than real.

It can be a rape, it may be a divorce, or a break up, the list can go on, but this you don’t need any examples on, you know what your hurt is, you know what baggage your holding.

The Hebrew word for one dealing with common forgiveness is “nasa” and it means to lift; to hold up and put down.

When we hold unforgiveness we can cause ourselves to hold not only our own baggage but the baggage of others we will not forgive. My unforgiveness is making me carry her issues with her mother. My unforgiveness towards her is making me deal with her childhood abuse.

I don’t know about you but I have enough baggage to deal with than having to deal with her issues too, I don’t have enough room to fit his problems too.

My baggage is beginning to be become filled with her baggage when I just can’t let go.

Getting rid of it

When I forgive I am able to let this baggage down. Its not about moving on, you can’t lose it, anyone that tells a women to forget her attacker hasn’t been attacked, anyone who tells a child to forget his abuse hasn’t been abused. Forgiveness is about letting go, lightening the load, and checking a few bags.

This forgiveness journey isn’t about trying to be perfect in peoples eyes and saying I forgive and forget, because no matter how much you say it, it probably wont happen that quick, this journey is about getting rid of extra baggage.

Jesus echoed this by saying, “cast your care upon me.” Or “Let me take those bags”, my version.

A Clip from my new book coming at the end of the Summer entitled, An Emerging Spirituality

“Those Men”

“Those” Men

Sometimes we love to play the victim. I’ve been hurt by life many times. I have also been hurt by the Christian community many more times. It’s easy for us to point fingers and think we are the ones who are right. But when playing the victim we can also hurt too, we can also judge too, we may be fighting fire with fire.

We look down at those men; The men who condemned that woman caught in adultery. We all seem to think, “I would have never picked up that stone in the first place.”

The reality is.. We are picking up our stones, every time we retaliate, every time we argue, every disagreement.

But just as we need to become real and say, we have all been there, and we are all still dealing with stuff, we need to humble ourselves and say, I’ve picked up a few stones in my day, maybe even today.

The beauty of this Passage is that this women was wrong, she was a whore, she was breaking the law, but more notable is the response of Jesus to, “Put down our Stones.” He says even though she’s not living right, put them down, even though she’s wrong in her belief, put them down, even though you can fight with your theology, PUT THEM DOWN.

When talking about our hurt from the Christian community, and expressing our views towards different beliefs, we must make it our main priority to not throw stones, but to stoop down just Jesus did and sit with each other in our messes, our failures and sins, together.

My intention has never been to point fingers but to discuss. Throwing a stone hurts, if you don’t get the metaphor, here; judgment by you and me, never wins. It’s not our job, it’s not our responsibility, and it is not our place. If Jesus didn’t judge that woman then we sure as hell can’t.

Be careful to Defend rationally.

Discuss peacefully.

Put your stones down, stop looking for a fight. It may not seem like it sometimes, but we are all on the same team.

Let’s come to the point where we can open up and say I’ve judged I’ve hurt and I may have spoken negatively to someone…

I may have thrown a couple…

But Today I’m putting my stones away

I hope you can put your stones down too.

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*** If you enjoyed the content in the past 3 blogs, this is similar content to a mini-book by myself out this Monday (May 2nd) on the kindle, Nook, iBooks and http://www.rickymaye.com ***