Friday, March 28, 2014

Every single event in life happens as an opportunity to choose love over fear.

Fear, I perceive, is something that drives people to do or not to do things. Many are steered by this emotion. And, it makes me ask myself, "am I also being driven by it?" I don't wanna be influenced by it, but somehow it can't be helped. With the many unpleasant things going on around, you can't help but be protective of yourself and do self-preservation. Past experiences, esp the painful ones, cause this emotion to be very operative like a personal escort alarming people of possible danger. Thing is, it may not be a REAL danger but just a perceived danger...and it's only because people have experienced serious heartbreak in the past, which makes them overprotective of themselves in the present. Fear, then, is like a skookum house. It detains you and forbids you to live a life of freedom.

Makes me appreciate this verse "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." It's found in 1 John 4:18. There are two things that make me muse on the word LOVE. If you notice, the line practically suggests that when you love, you don't fear. Because there's an absence of it when love is present. But, if you consider the next sentence, PERFECT LOVE is mentioned. As I understand it, it's not just about the love as people understand it. Not just the love that people feel. Not the one that's fleeting and fading with time. But, it's one that is PERFECT.

The word PERFECT is defined as having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. Some synonyms include: without fault, exemplary, beyond compare, unequaled, quintessential. The author of the verse did not just say LOVE alone. He added an adjective to highlight what kind of love it is that can drive fear away. It is not just any love, but PERFECT love.

Which makes me convinced that it's not enough that people just settle for what the world tells us about love, or how we perceive love with our half-baked understanding of what it truly is. There's a scale...a gauge ...a level of quality to strive after. And unless we have a clear grasp of love's nucleus, we'll always be locked up in the slammer of FEAR. As long as we're ruled by fear, we'll never be able to experience love. More so, we won't be able to give love. We're gonna keep craving for it...begging for it...looking everywhere for it...but none will satisfy.

So, does it mean LOVE can never be experienced and attained? I'd say, of course, NO. God is LOVE. And, as we draw closer to Him, we'll have a better knowledge of love's essence. As we receive love from God Who is the Source of it, the love we receive will become a part of us...that it becomes the air we breathe in and out. Love will become like an involuntary muscle of our soul. It becomes a part of our being. And because it is a muscle, we need to flex it regularly...keep using it and giving it away...voluntarily and involuntarily. There will always be times we won't feel like loving. But, that is why Jesus said, "I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you." (John 13:34, ERV) God gave us LOVE and Jesus gave us a command to DO it and not just to FEEL it. We are told to be givers and not only to be receivers. 

Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. ― Ephesians 5:2

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Never compromise Truth for the sake of getting along with people who can only get along when you agree.

My understanding of the word LEADER esp when it comes to discipleship isn't about position. It's rather a verb. It's more of leading by example. You build relationship and you show them how things are done. In discipleship's case, it's how things are done based on Christ's example

Contemplating on the idea, I believe there's truth in it. You can't be all nice. There is a need to maintain authority. Else, people will just be their own captains. Jesus also showed authority among His friends (disciples). Those who didn't believe Him eventually left. Those who questioned His ways and teachings went away. Because His teachings were indeed hard; and, those who found His instructions difficult and unpopular, criticized Him.

A number of times, God reminded me this one thing:  

"Students are not better than their teacher. Servants are not better than their master.  Students should be happy to be treated the same as their teacher. And servants should be happy to be treated the same as their master. If those people call me ‘the ruler of demons,’ and I am the head of the family, then it is even more certain that they will insult you, the members of the family!"

Tis Jesus speaking in the passage found in the book of Matthew (vs 10:24 & 25).

True enough, there will be people who will question, chide, belittle... anyone who follows and teaches Jesus' ways and commands. At times, they'd get offended at what's said although it's all Biblical. It's tougher when they'd built mindsets and understanding of the Word that's totally their own. Esp when they've been holding on to those mindsets and understanding for all their life. The challenge comes when it's time for them to break it and you happen to be the one to do the breaking!

Happened to me not just a couple of times but countless times. Hesitation will always be there but this always comes to mind...

"...don’t worry about what to say or how you should say it. At that time you will be given the words to say. It will not really be you speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you.

...Everyone will hate you because you follow Me. But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved." (10:19, 20, 22)

Repeatedly, I'd hear from Church pastors how many people leave the congregation after finding certain sermons objectionable. Naturally, the preaching will come out off-putting to them...because... 

God’s word is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us. It cuts deep to the place where the soul and the spirit are joined. God’s word cuts to the center of our joints and our bones. It judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts.

Oftimes, people are oversensitive to corrections. They malign anything that points at their flaws. I am not exempt from this. At times, my heart bleeds hearing something that exposes my hidden evil thoughts, feelings or deeds. And, if I am to be real honest now...there really is an impulse to rise in arms whenever it feels like I'm being upbraided. My inside protests a whim. Thank God for His grace I acknowledge it's PRIDE. So, when I don't understand something, when I don't see the wrong in me...I take the lesson with me, place it in my pocket for later use. I contemplate and assess things...I gauge myself. 

To lead people, one needs true grit. One must not have the need for approval. Otherwise, they'll crouch down in fear and choose to say what will be pleasing to the hearers, instead of what the hearers need to hear. Jesus showed His example ― He wasn't swayed by men. He paid no attention to who they were but continued teaching the way of God in accordance with the Truth [ref Mark 12:14].  After all, Christians are warned that ...
"everyone who wants to live showing true devotion to God in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."  ― 2 Timothy 3:12

Not everyone has an open mind, which is very necessary in order to grasp the Truth [example of the Bereans. Ref Acts 17:11] And, because of this, Jesus and the Apostles encourage all Christians and disciples to stand strong in the Lord and hold on to faith. Never be afraid of rejection... even reproach. Speak the Truth in love. But, be ready that not everyone can/will accept it for the Word says...

"The Father sent Me. No man can come to Me unless the Father gives him the desire to come to Me. Then I will raise him to life on the last day." ―John 6:44

Some hearts are too hardened to receive the Truth...they're blind and deaf...

‘They will look and look but never really see;
    they will listen and listen but never understand.
If they saw and understood,
    they might change and be forgiven.’
― Mark 4:12

...You will listen and you will hear,
    but you will not understand.
You will look and you will see,
    but you will not understand what you see.

―Acts 28:26

It will always be tough to lead. You need to guard your heart, your mind and your lips with all alertness, or you, too will fall into temptation. You might be swayed to take the easier way. To choose convenience. Several times God reminded me this...

"The person who is right with Me will live by trusting in Me. But I will not be pleased with the one who turns back in fear." ― Hebrews 10:38

There will always be situations where you will need to rebuke, to correct, to say things that may offend others.  Not because of foul words used or because of intention. But, by simply speaking the Truth which happens to point at an issue in a person's life. And you can't be resolving to being nice just to try to make the person comfortable or to keep the harmony. Just trust that if the person belongs to Christ, (s)he will recognize His voice through you. Maybe it'll not happen as smoothly as you expect, but in God's perfect time it will. ^_^ Jesus was not always nice with words. There were instances when He spoke harshly. Read Matthew 10:34-36 and tell me if it's not sarcastic. He also said this line to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” Sometimes, there's simply no other way to express what we need to say other than the way it will sound offensive to the receiver. 

Of course, this should be taken with caution or you might become too comfortable offending others. Being a leader doesn't give anyone the right to lord over another. And we have to be careful that what we're shoving down anyone's throat isn't just any rule we created based on how we understand the Word ―cherry-picking what we independently decided to be moral and disregarding which we disagree. We have to understand and use the Word in Its very context. It's safer rather to quote the Bible as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16...

"All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live."

 Leadership needs a lotta wisdom and grace from God. Therefore, leaders must devote themselves to prayer...being watchful... Pray without ceasing!