This is My Crowd

This is My Crowd
Picture by: Photography by Vicky Campos

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Freedom & Love

This world offers freedom, but the freedom it offers isn't free or freeing.

We simply become captive to success, money, other people's opinions, our jobs, the societal norm, the cookie cutters that we all have to fit into.  We have become numb to our prison cells because we stay doped up on consumption and entertainment.  Feeling a bit dissatisfied?  There's a movie for that.

So, you think you're different and you find your freedom in your individuality? 

Well, Hipster has become so normal, it's not even cool anymore.   

Goth?  Yeah... that's kind of just funny now.

Punk?  Wait.  Is that even a thing any more?

Emo... ok, that's just lame.  Does anyone even remember emo?

Scene?  Passe, just like that hombre hair color.

Like to put a little bright color in your hair?  So does Barbie.  Got Tatoos?  Yep, Barbie has them too.  Fan of ye ol' Dubstep?  It's cool, you can find it on the jukebox at your local pizza parlor.

Do you feel different?  Maybe like no one understands you?  Like you have something in you that would blow everyone away if they knew? 

Are you getting it yet?  Everyone is different and, in that fact, no one is special.  Or maybe it's that everyone is special and, in that fact, no one is different.  In either case, I have good news.  You are different and special, but not for the reasons you think.

There is no outward force that can mold you into something special.  There is no government agency that can make you free.  There is no army or fashion magazine that can help you discover your potential or cap it.

You will not find your identity in a crowd of people protesting or in the rhetoric distributed by people who have set their face toward division. 

You may be reading this today as an atheist, or a deist of a non-Christian nature, or a confused Christian, or just confused; regardless of that, just know that you were hand-crafted for a purpose in this life.  That *thing* that you carry around in your heart was carefully placed there and the only way it can be fully understood is when it's purpose is explained by it's Creator.

I'm not peddling Easter Bunnies or Eggs or "correct" Resurrection Sunday memes.  I'm not pushing pews and crosses and NOTW t-shirts either.  I'm pointing to that thing inside of you that wants to burst out and be free (Don't picture the scene from Alien, Hahahaha!).  It can't without Jesus. 

No matter what you do to your external-self, you will not harness your true potential, which is the thing that ACTUALLY makes you different, until you acknowledge it was created by Someone Who loves you and may have some thoughts on the matter.

Freedom can only be found in true love.

True love doesn't come with exceptions.

True love is not just a feeling, but proved by action.

True love has come in the Man named Jesus, who loves you without exception and proved it by the Cross.

Until you know Him, you will not be free.  You may be sedate, you may be confused, you may be numb, you may be angry, or you may be lying to yourself; but you will not be free.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Gaze Outside of Time

So, the entire chapter of Hebrews 12 is worth reading, as is the entire book of Hebrews, and the New Testament and, well, while I'm at it, the entirety of the Holy Bible.  That being said, my post today is about 2 half sentences that show up in Hebrews 12:1-2.  They read:

"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame..."

Do you see it?  I didn't until Sunday night during a prayer service. 

The gaze outside of time itself.

As Jesus entered this most diffcult week, this Holy Week, this Passion Week, there was one thing that encouraged Him to endure and that was you. 

"For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame..."

He was looking at you.  You, in your most wretched state, lost and broken, were enough to get Him through. 

This gaze, however, was never intended to be one way.  Just as Jesus is outside of time looking at you now, you have been invited to return that gaze and be encouraged during your difficult days.

When you set your eyes on Jesus, know that He is looking right back at you.

Is it as crazy for your to think that Jesus found endurance in setting His gaze upon you?  It's still crazy for me.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Don't Judge Me | It Just Sounds So Biblical

I don't know the exact level of irony that will be displayed in what I am about to share, but I do know that this post may be perceived as having been woven with a substantial amount of irony.  Given that it seems as though I may be judging others who are judging others for judging them.  Yeah, that just happeed.

So, here goes.

There seems to be a surge of memes posted online demanding that others not judge them.  To drive the point home?  They quote Jesus. 

Luke 6:37

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged."

Matthew 7:1

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

Seems straight forward, right?  Jesus said don't judge, so people shouldn't judge me, right?  I don't think that was His point.

I think this teaching falls under the same category as so many teachings I've sat under, as soon as I hear the word spoken, I think of someone else who should hear it.  Funny how that works.  We are always so quick to apply the commands of God to other people, instead of ourselves.

We always want to be forgiven, but struggle with forgiveness.
We declare "Don't judge me!", yet often judge others.
We say others should be generous to us, but find that we withhold.
We remind others of unconditional love, yet have many filters on our own.

Jesus tells the story of an unmerciful servant in Matthew 18.  To summarize what occurred, a servant was forgiven a pretty significant debt by his king.  Shortly thereafter, he ran into an old friend that owed him a pretty minor debt and had him thrown into prison when the friend was unable to repay him.  When the king heard this, he had some pretty harsh words for the servant and then reinstated the debt, throwing his butt into prison. 

I understand that forgiveness is a very specific topic, one that should not be glossed over, but I believe that this command against judging others should be grouped in with forgiveness relative to its application. 

Jesus never commanded that we not judge others so that we might avoid being judged by people, but rather so that we might avoid being judged by God.  I'm not suggesting that we won't be held accountable for our (in)actions, because we will.  I'm merely stating that the purpose of His command was that we might address the issues in our own hearts and make adjustments. 

The world as each of us knows it would change dramatically for the better if we simply stopped concerning ourselves with what judgements other people made of us and spent some time judging our own hearts and motives.  We need to take down our "Don't judge me!" banners and begin the work of becoming renewed.  

Trust me, if you are overly concerned with what others think of you and spend time defending yourself, you will spend very little time with the Holy Spirit searching out the real issues in your heart and making the necessary adjustments.  Once in defense mode, it's hard to let God show us what is broken.

I can only tell you what I, myself, have gone through.  Or rather, what I am still going through.  So, don't worry!  You are good company.

Can we all agree to stop posting those stupid memes now?