christianity

The Israelites: A Special Kind of Love

Over the last two years, the love of God has perplexed and overwhelmed me. I mean, like really. How can anyone love me that much and invest so much in me, and continually welcome me back when I fail and miss the mark time after time? How can someone love me past my pain and my insecurities, past my faults and disloyalty, past my wicked heart and my selfish ways? For real. A love so deep that vows to restore and heal. It’s interesting that the Spanish word for ‘deep’ is profundo, which looks a lot like the English word ‘profound.’ The idea of profound is something that goes beyond one’s normal thinking and understanding. Therefore, God’s love is so profound that it goes beyond our finite comprehension. His love is so unique and so pure that nothing can separate us from His love; it is unconditional, specifically to those of us who surrender our lives to Him. In the Bible we see words like everlasting, eternal, true, perfect, and never failing used to describe His love for His children. How insane is it that I can always count on God to love me and hold His arms out no matter what. Granted that does not give me the right to take that love for granted or assume the Lord won’t show tough love when necessary, hence the Israelites.

Throughout the various studies and readings, especially in the Old Testament, the depth of God’s love is demonstrated by His commitment to the Israelites, His chosen people. Reading through the prophets, the lives of their kings, and even when they first came out of Egypt, the Israelites were trippin. Just in a book like Hosea, one of the tribes were accused of having a spirit of prostitution. What?! Furthermore, good kings were few and far between, for most of the kings of Judah and Israel were terrible and got progressively worse from one to the next, and the people tended to follow the leadership. God on so many occasions threatened them in many ways and claimed that He would turn away from them, and He often made good on His word, and as I read His words in Scripture, I imagine His fed up, rolling His eyes and smh face, so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if He cussed them out on multiple occasions (no He didn’t, let me be clear), because the Israelites put their God through so much crap for centuries. My brother wrote a poem some years ago called, “Thank God I’m not God,” or something similar and that poem is ridiculously accurate just looking at the relationship between Yahweh and the Israelites, because I know for a fact that if I was God, I would have walked away and never looked back.

But that’s why I can’t be God.

Even though the Lord disciplined them, sometimes severely – they were wilin’ – they never had to wonder if God loved them, because He was slow to anger and His anger did not last long, and He always reminded them of who they were and of the covenant He made with their fathers. He was quick to restore and to redeem and desired to bestow His awesome favor upon them when they got their lives together. (There were many good years in between the not so good.)

The more I read, the more I study, the less I understand the love of God. It’s so…indescribable. How can a God that big, love little ole’ me that much? I have nothing to offer Him that He needs or could make His living better or more meaningful; He needs to depend on me for absolutely nothing, but I need Him just to write this blog. He has every reason and right to be distant, short-tempered, and arrogant, but in His flawless character, He chooses to be jealous for my love and chose to give His life in order to prove to me how much He desired me and wanted to have a relationship with me. I am on the verge of tears writing this, because I am just considering how great His love really is and how undeserving of it I am, but His love is mercy and grace, just as it was with the Israelites, for as He chose them to be His people, He chose me before time began to be His daughter, just like He chose you to be His child. He loves you and He loves me because He said He would. Be you for a purpose and bask in the big, strong, special kind of love that will carry you through the fires and deep drowning waters of your life, even if you set the fire or jumped in the pool yourself.

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Generally Speaking

We all strive to find our specific purpose for our lives, we anticipate finding out what our calling is, specific to our individual lives. However, Scripture tells us of things that God wills for all of us no matter who we are that I think are crucial to live out in order to effectively fulfill our individual life purpose. There are five things in particular that generally speaking I believe God purposes for each of us.

The first is to simply be thankful. No matter how bad things look, be grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In order to be who God called us to be, we have to be thankful for what we have because it makes us who we are. As we go through life, there are plenty of things that we can complain about or legitimately be upset about, but I think that if we learn to be humble and grateful in the roughest times of our lives, we will become content and at peace. When we have a thankful heart, it’s easier to stay focused on what matters and trust God to handle things out of our control or guide us in the decisions to be made. God’s desire for us is to be thankful.

In a world where sex sells and it’s so glorified, many miss this one more than others. God’s will for His people is that they refrain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Sex was made for marriage, not for an extracurricular activity or dating auditions. In order to be all of who God has for us to be, fornication and immorality are serious hindrances to His plans. From dangerous emotional relationships, attachments to others that aren’t helping you to your destiny, which of course is harder to detach from if a child is involved, which I see far too often creates messy situations, or medical problems. Sex outside of marriage limits what you are able to give your spouse, because a piece of you was left with someone else, and living in sin will limit what God will do in, by, through, and for you.

In a world like we live in today, there is a lot of stupid talk; a lot of ignorance, some of which is warranted by a record of ignorant behavior.  As a result, God’s will for us is that we do good, in order to get people to stop talking (1 Peter 2:15). Just considering all of the talk against Christianity, let alone Christ, it mandates us, His people, to do good and to represent Christ well as much as we can so that foolish people will have less ignorant things to talk about.  Do more positive things, the more positive people will begin to speak. In whatever specific calling God has on your life, doing good I am sure is a root of it, because the more you represent the goodness of the Lord, that is what people will begin to talk about.

However, doing good or going against the grain of the world’s thinking or standards of what it is good and right can create a sense of fear. Yet, God’s purpose was that we wouldn’t operate in fear, but in power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Fulfilling God’s purpose for your life requires all three, no matter how big or small. In a world like ours, authority, power, love, sensibility and self-control are critical to substantially changing the culture we live in and impacting the world as we know it, because there will be times when God will need us to step outside of our comfort zone and demand us to take giant leaps of faith, sometimes blindly, but we have to trust that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do, and that we are who He says we are.

All in all, whatever our individual purpose is, it’s all about growing the kingdom and being witnesses for Jesus in our homes to the far reaches of the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).  To effectively do this, the previous must become a priority for us. We must do good and love one another; we should be bold, self-controlled, sanctified, always being thankful.

There is much work to be done and being you for the purpose of being who it is that God destined you to be, it is essential that we strive to do these things wherever life brings us because they are core to walking in the center of the will of God.

 

Matrix

The More I mature, the Christian walk seems more and more like the Matrix. The idea of Matrix is that the world we live in is only a cover up of reality. I think of Morpheus and how he came to Anderson (which happens to be my last name) and gave him the option to join him or go back to life as he knew it. Jesus did the exact same thing with his disciples. He gave them a choice: red pill or blue pill. He gives us a choice follow him or refute him.

As a Christian, we learn the Word and it’s like the scales our removed from our eyes; our perspectives and world views change and the truth is revealed. Just like the movie, there were many people inside of the Matrix, but not that many on the outside. Like Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Matthew 7:13-14. Furthermore, if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the enemy was not perceived by those in the Matrix, only those on the outside. Paul told the church in Ephesus the same thing, the “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” As Christians, our spirits our more sensitive to the evilness in the world that we were unaware of before coming to Christ.

If you remember the movie, those who were no longer in the matrix, like Neo, they didn’t live glamorously; they actually looked shabby. The Christian life is a life of suffering, and Paul talked about it plenty in the old testament. In the same way, they looked broken, which is how we should be, because God has to break us to build us. However, they did go back to the Matrix from time to time to save the world from the machines and looked the part. As Christians we have to live in this world, even though it is not our home, and help bring people to safety (witnessing).

The best part about it, “bullet time.” Just as Jesus chooses us, Morpheus picked Neo. Although, he could not just fight on his own, he had to train. We have to train – 1 Timothy 4:7 and Hebrews 5:14 – Through reading, studying, listening, praying, and fasting we train ourselves not only to defeat the enemy, but to understand the world around us and not get caught up in the illusion and deceit, even the things that seem right, like Neo. Needless to say, the most popular scene in the movie is when the enemy is shooting and he bends all the way backward and avoids the bullets. We were given armor to defeat and defer the attacks of the enemy (Ephesians 6). As we grow, mature, and solidify our walk and salvation, the enemy becomes weaker; we become stronger through Christ. As we stay faithful we will be able to accomplish more things than we imagine and no obstacle is too great.

Our purpose is not inside the Matrix; it’s not found in this world. Our purpose comes from heaven. Only Christ can open our eyes. So I ask, red pill or blue pill?

Phoenix

I am a huge ‘X-Men’ fan and I was floored when I was able to make the parallel of Jean phoenix5Grey and Phoenix, to [my] life as a Christian. It was really life changing, if I may say so myself. I’ve explained it several times, and each time it amazes me, thus, I’m putting it to writing to share with you.

When you think of the ‘X-Men’ plot, the two most significant characters are Professor X and Magneto. Particularly in the last movie of the trilogy, lets assume Professor X to represent God, and Magneto lets assume him to be Satan. In the beginning of the movie, we see the Jean Grey as a young girl. She knows she is different, but doesn’t really understand or know how to handle and or accept it. Nonetheless, she is introduced to and put under the care of Professor X. Just in that, like me and many other we were saved at a young age. We grew up and embraced the Christian lifestyle, like mutants. And not much different than today’s society, the rest of the world didn’t like Christians, just like they persecuted mutants. In the same breath, just as some Christians, some mutants hid their identity and didn’t want to be labeled or persecuted – closet Christians blend in and you won’t know them to be Christians unless you ask. – Likewise, you have Professor X and Magneto fighting for their alliance.

Furthermore, years go by and Jean Grey develops her skill and matures in every aspect, as one should. However, in the second movie she starts to have random visions and starts to lose control. It’s not until the last movie that she learns she has so much more power than she ever knew: the Phoenix. Professor X and Magneto knew this as well. Most importantly, there is the scene where they are fighting over her. Confused and lost, she chooses to go with Magneto who would allow her to lose control and do whatever she wanted. Magneto’s main defense was the fact that, Professor X had known Jean Grey’s power all along but kept it under control, still, Professor X said it was for her own good.

The same thing happens to us, but I pray we all choose the latter. As years go by, our faith is challenged by the world, a world that says we should be able to do what we want when we want no matter the cost. As individuals, God created us each with different powers and abilities, called gifts and talents. When we give our lives to Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, he desires to mold us and mature us, shape us and make us fit for the power locked inside of us. Without His control, we are prone to do crazy stupid things (Romans 1) just as Phoenix did in the “X-Men: The Last Stand.” On the contrary, the Devil, like Magneto, wants to use the same power to bring destruction.

Just like Jean Grey should have trusted the ways and purpose of Professor X, so should we trust the ways of God (Isaiah 55). Contrary to the lies of Satan, like Magneto, God is not looking to destroy who we are as persons and make us like robots; He wants to perfect us and the gifts He gave us so that we can be the most effective in His kingdom.

At the end of the movie (spoiler alert) we see that Phoenix has totally lost control and the only way to stop her antics is death, and so Wolverine kills her. Yet, when he kills her, before dying, she smiles as if to say “thank you.” That stands out to me for a couple reasons. I pray I never get so off track and off focus in doing my own thing, that I bring more harm than good and wind up in a space wondering how in the world I got there. Yet, if God forbid I get there, death is only option, death to self that is, so Christ may be resurrected in my life (Galatians 2:20). So the question would be, who is my Wolverine?

God has an amazing purpose for you. My prayer is that you won’t let Satan, or your Magneto, discourage you and make you doubt what God is doing in your life. There is a season for everything, and God knows the beginning and the end. So when you get anxious, and your mind starts to wonder and your heart gets confused, trust God and trust His heart. You have the amazing power of Christ in your life, whether you realize how great it is or not, and when God Himself says you are ready to release, the by all means fly and change the world. Who knows what good Jean Grey could’ve done if she would have stayed with Professor X. Likewise, don’t get to heaven and have God say if only you would have stayed with me…