Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dad was extravagant

My dad had a taste for the finer things in life.  I grew up in a very upscale house in Chicago on a small lake, and later moved into the same neighborhood of former Chicago Cubs star Billy Williams.  My early childhood brought me incredible experiences like sailing across lake Michigan in a 42 foot yacht, however when I was 12 all that changed when my parents divorced.  Later after the divorce my dad and mom both remarried, and my dad moved across country which meant we saw very little of each other.  He passed away a few years ago, but when I think of him, I am reminded of his extravagance. 

When I was a child I just enjoyed the toys, but later in life when we reconnected his extravagance was still very noticeable.  If dad had a new gadget, he would always proclaim its’ value and tell me how much my life would be enriched if I too had one.  Dad didn’t just talk the talk, but he would always put his money where his mouth was, by buying it for me.  Just the other day I was looking at the 3 by 5 framed Carol Grigg Indian print that is hanging over our couch.  Dad had this print in his house and when he came to visit our new house, he insisted that we too enjoy its’ beauty.  He took us to the art store and bought it and had it framed.  Apparently it was a perfect match for our d├ęcor.  Another item that he bought us, although it has lost it’s value in this day of the microwave, was an instant hot water unit that would enable us to have boiling hot water anytime we wanted right out of the tap.  I really didn’t see the need, but dad said I had to have it.  I thought his extravagance was without comparison, until I realized the extravagant nature of my daddy God. 



Extravagance is defined as the absolute best, over the top in luxury, going beyond reasonable limits, excessive, unrestrained, exceeding the bounds of reason, and beyond what is deserved or justified.  Just think of it for a moment.  How many passages of the Bible have we read that include words like abundance, all, beyond measure and many other such adjectives and adverbs?  2 Corinthians 9:8 is one such passage.  It reads, “and God is able to make ALL GRACE abound to you, so that having ALL SUFFICIENCY IN ALL THINGS AT ALL TIMES, you may abound in EVERY GOOD WORK.   God promises that He will meet ALL OUR NEEDS, He tells us that He will open the windows of heaven for us and pour out a blessing that we CANNONT CONTAIN.  God just doesn’t demonstrate His extravagance; it’s who He is.  He’s grace oozes with His extravagance, His love is totally unconditional, it’s over the top, beyond reason, and is far beyond that which is deserved.  In Romans we’re told to renew our minds.  I believe that we need to renew our minds regarding our Heavenly Father.  He’s so totally extravagant by nature, and He’s expecting us to be the same.  When we give it should be extravagant giving, when we forgive it should be extravagant forgiveness, and when we love, it should be with the same extravagant love we have received from our extravagant daddy God.

Friday, February 14, 2014

What the Hell?



Daniel 12:2 (AMP)
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt and abhorrence.

Today many churches have decided to avoid the topic of Hell.  Apparently they believe that to preach on Hell would be not so “seeker” sensitive, but is that really the case?  The Word of God declares that everyone will live forever.  Yes, one day our bodies will give way to the course of nature, but our spirits will live forever.  As a Christian, I love the fact that my spirit will live forever, but I can’t help but think about those spirits that will live forever, in some place other than Heaven.  Actually there are only two options available, Heaven or Hell. 

Matthew 25:39-41 (AMP)
39 And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You?
40 And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.
41 Then He will say to those at His left hand, Be gone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!

Hell was never made for man, but it was a place created to punish the devil and his angels, however for those who choose to disobey God and align themselves with the devil through acts of disobedience, it will also be their final destination.  Today many don’t believe in a literal Hell.  They seem to think that when we die that’s all there is.  I wonder how much the “seeker sensitive” church is responsible in part for that way of thinking.  Hell is a real place of eternal torment.  Wow, torment that never stops, never has any moments of relief.  So tell me again, why aren’t we warning people of this impending eternity of torment?  Apparently we don’t have a real revelation of love and compassion for the sons and daughters of God.   If we truly did, we would be shouting from the rooftops, declaring the love of our amazing father.  A wise Godly woman once told me that too often we lead people to the tree of good and evil when we should be leading them to the tree of life. 
Am I saying that we should never preach on Hell, not necessarily, but I believe that if we really had a revelation of God’s love we would be much more intentional in rescuing them from that place of eternal torment.  I suppose the real question is do YOU believe in a literal Hell?

The problem with not preaching or talking about a literal Hell is that usually it accompanies the lack of preaching or talking about a literal Heaven.  For if we believe in a literal Heaven, then we MUST believe in a literal Hell.

God is so amazing.  He loves us so much that He created Heaven just for us.  A place with incredible scenery filled with beauty that only God could imagine. 

God truly is a God, who is over the top in love with His kids, and I’m so grateful to be one of them, but my heart is heavy for those who have not yet experienced that love.  Too many today believe that God is mad at them and just looking for an excuse to send them to Hell.  They have believed the street preachers who have condemned them to Hell in the name of God’s “righteous anger.”  However that simply isn’t the case.  God isn’t interested in sending ANYONE to Hell.  It was never created for that purpose.  It is totally our choice where we will spend our eternity.  As for me I choose to spend it Heaven with my loving Father, by obeying His plan for my life. I refuse to align myself with a disobedient devil, and thus choose Hell.  I have decided that from now on, I’m going to declare to the hurting, they dying, the weak, the lame, and the unbelieving, my mantra of God’s unfailing, and unconditional love.  Each day I plan on telling at least one person that God’s not mad at them, but is instead mad about them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

HELP!

Help, I Need Somebody!

Fifty years ago the Beatles arrived on the music scene. Their music took the world by storm, and they truly impacted the music industry.  One of their hits was a song entitled, “Help.” 

When I was growing up I wanted to be just like my dad.  He was a self-made man.  He never went to college but ended up owning a very large packaging business in Chicago.  Later he would sell that business, and at 45 years old was able to retire.  What does it mean to be “self-made?”  Basically it means that you can do it on your own, you don’t need anyone’s help in achieving your goals.  The image of being “self-made” is embraced in today’s world, and I believe that it’s even invaded the church.  There is a HUGE problem with this way of thinking.  As believers we are in DESPERATE need of help.  We must embrace the fact that everything we are, any positive attributes we posses are not our own, but have been given to us by God.  I have no righteousness of my own, but I am clothed in His righteousness.  Even the breath that I possess is not my own but given by Him.  As a matter of fact the Bible says in Isaiah, that we are to sever ourselves from a man whose breath is in his own nostrils. So the real problem as I see it is this:  If we continue to have the “self-made” ideology, then we will refuse help.

Today in the church there are many in need of help, however for some reason they refuse it.  Whether it’s fear, pride, or simple stubbornness, something is causing believers to remain bound when freedom is at hand.  I have seen God move and many receive freedom from all kinds of situations.  I have seen demons cast out, and freedom replace bondage.  I’ve seen God’s healing power cure the blind as well as the smallest ailment.  The sad thing is that His power to heal and deliver was available to all who were present during those times, but it was refused.  I have often wondered why?  I think the answer to that question is because they don’t feel they need or deserve help.  We have allowed the enemy to deceive us into accepting a low “self-worth”.  Once again our value is not derived in ourselves, but it comes from the God who created us.  So to think we’re not worthy of His healing or deliverance is once again due to this “self-made” ideology.  We don’t deserve any of God’s gifts or goodness, but we partake of it because of  His grace.  We can’t earn any of it, but a God who is simply mad about us freely gives it.  However the person who just doesn’t feel they need help, is the one that concern me the most.  That person just doesn’t trust.  Trust means to totally rely upon.  So if we think we don’t need help then we are telling the creator of the universe that we know better than He. 


I think that each of us needs a revelation of dependence.  If we will become totally dependent on God, then we will receive EVERYTHING that He has to offer.  Even if we feel free, there is always more freedom.  If we will become people of “the more”, then we will find we always need His help.  So I guess the Beatles had it right in this respect.  HELP I NEED SOMEONE and that someone is GOD.