It always seems like some colors used in ls are always off, no matter what background color you use in the terminal window here is how to fix that:
cp /etc/DIR_COLORS ~/.dir_colors
then change whatever you like, I’m going to change how directories are displayed (get rid of that invisible blue):
Before: DIR 01;34
After: DIR 44;01;35
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). Deietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that Christian community is a very special gift. It’s a privilege that many persecuted Christians around the world do not have. Deietrich talks about how we need to the support of one another, especially when we are weak. When we begin to doubt, the encouraging word of Christ through our brother lifts us up. When uncertain, the sure words of our brother’s encourage our own hearts. When we look at our brother we should realize we will be eternally united with them through Christ. God has showered us with so much love, we have received so much from Him, we are able to give to our brothers. But if our love is meager to our brothers, it’s a sign we are living less from God’s mercy and love for us. Our love and community with one another consists in the reality of what Christ has done for us both.
It’s important to realize that Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality, a spiritual reality, not a psychic reality. So often we have our expectations and dreams of what community should be. But if we love our dream of community more than Christian community itself, we will end up destroying the latter, even with personal intentions that may seem so Honest, earnest, and sacrificial. Relationships, even in the Christan community are messy. But it’s in those moments where relationships become difficult that we should be reminded, that we are not living a life of Love by are own strength, but as Christians we are to be living by Christ’s Word and Deed. We see conflict and disappointment in our Christian relationships, and wonder what went wrong. We pray that God would do great things to change the other person, or to make the relationship “heavenly”, but as we pray for these big things, we neglect to give thanks to God for the small things He has done (things that really aren’t small at all). We may complain that Christian Community is not what it should be. “Why didn’t people huddle around and pray for me?”, “why was that person short with me?”, “I don’t feel like I am being spiritually fed by others?”. These complains should be indicators that we need to look at ourselves, see that our “dream” isn’t the real problem. May God lead us into situations where are “wish dreams” are shattered, so that we might walk in Truth. This is the big difference between Christian community and human community. Christian community is based on Truth, while human community is based on desire. Human community and relationships find at the root a desire for others to conform to our desires. At it’s worst this leads to the tragedy of human absorption. Human love is directed to the other person for the sake of selfish gain. Spiritual love loves the other for the sake of Christ. You see human love has an end, a desired goal. That end is a sort of idol which it worshiped, it cultivates and ideal, and loves itself. True Love, Spiritual Love, releases the other from every attempt to regulate, coerce, and dominate them with love. Letting the other person retain their independence.
I remember many times sitting in math class during my college years, with the teacher standing up in front scribing rapidly on the chalkboard. They would be teaching things like eigen vectors, multi-dimensional integration, or probabilistic logic. There would be lots of numbers, symbols, and maybe even graphs sprinkled across the wide chalkboard. I remember sensing that if I could just grasp what the instructor was teaching it would be a solution to all kinds of problems: engineering rockets, 3D graphics algorithms, analog circuits, or beating the house at black jack, but alas the meaning behind the scribbles on the board seemed illusive, at least at that time. This is much the way I felt reading the forth chapter in John Piper’s book Desiring God.
The chapter is entitled “Love”, a topic that we are all searching out, but which often eludes us.
He beings the chapter breaking down “idealist” misunderstandings about love. You’ve probably heard them before. Like, an act isn’t truly loving unless it is entirely for the other person and that you get no personal pleasure from it, or that “Love is an action, not a feeling”. The essence of these statements seem to be that pure love is something you just do out of a duty, and the less you get from it the more “loving” it really is. It even seem like there are verses: 1 Cor 13:5, 1 Cor 10:24,33, Rom 15:1-3. But Piper does a good job of demolishing these arguments (you should read it). Looking deeper into 1 Cor 13 he shows how making great sacrifices (doing great things), but not having love is meaningless: “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing”. In Paul’s statement we also see in the words “I gain nothing” a sense that Paul has a certain personal gain in mind, But wouldn’t that be selfish? Hmm… as Piper also remarks Love is more than a feeling, but Love is also not less than a feeling. This is clearly seen in the 1 Cor passage: Love is “not jealous”, it is “not easily provoked”, it “rejoices in the truth”, and it “hopes all things” (these are all feelings).
Using the picture of the Maccedonians in 2 Corinthians, those who even though they were poor saw the need of the Christians in Jerusalem and gave out of their poverty he outlines what genuine love looks like. How it begins with Grace (God doing a work in our heart), how thought that we begin to be filled with Joy, His Grace continues to pour out in Generosity, their Joy in God, out poured in the Joy of giving, they begged to give!
From these two discoveries we see that there is not only a reward in love, but we also see it intrinsically linked to joy. In fact looking into Paul’s farewell address in Acts 20:37 we see another hint of this:
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'”
He is asking his friends to do two things, first help the weak, but second in that process of helping the weak remember that you are more blessed in giving then receiving. Wow, do I really believe Jesus’ words, that in helping those that are weak, I’m the one who is receiving the most blessing from the interaction.
But all this speak of Love and Joy. Doesn’t Love include suffering, isn’t love difficult sometimes. Yes it is, and the Joy that we are talking about isn’t just laughter and “fun”. In fact as we zoom into the picture of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, we see the ultimate act of love. But is Jesus “joyful”, as he sweats droplets of blood in his intense anguish? In speaking about Jesus Hebrews 12 records: “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”. Piper defines love as our joy being found it the joy of another. That if we really love someone, we will find joy in their joy, we will want to do what we can, even make sacrifices, that they might have joy. Their joy is our joy. Similarly, Love weeps then it sees someone without joy, it becomes dissatisfied in this state, weeping in that interim, is it tries to expand in love to meat that need, and bring joy to the heart of the other person.
Piper also echos the thought of Greek philosophers and CS Lewis, as he speaks of rewards that are organically related. That the Christian does and ought to seek rewards, but that he is not a mercenary in doing so, if the reward he is seeking is the “natural” reward. Giving the example of “natural” rewards CS Lewis speaks of how the natural reward of the real lover is marriage, but a man who marries for the sake of money, is a mercenary. As Luke 6:35 says:
Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons on the Most High, for he is kind the ungrateful and the evil.
Do you see the natural reward!! By obeying God and loving are enemies and doing good, we get the reward of being sons of the Most High. As we obey Him, we get the reward of being like Him. We are drawn to His holiness, and that not only stirs up a desire to behold His holiness, but also to be holy as God is holy. How awesome is that!! This is what is meant by the natural rewards of obeying God. We want to see God active and His power in our lives. Like a mountain climber who experiences incredible egsileration as he climbs to the top of a mountain like Everest. He is filled with a sense of Self-confidence and power. Similarly we experience a sense of egsileration as we see God use us and His power present and working in our lives and the lives of others. But we don’t get filled with pride, instead we are humbled at His greatness, experience Joy as He combats pride in our lives, and our thrill is not seeing our power increase, but the thrill of feeling God’s power increase, conquering the precipices of un-love in our sinful hearts.
So tonight at small group we went over chapter one of the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. It’s a book that I really enjoyed as I went through it before, and hope that as I go through it the third time. The truth in it will sink in deeper and in a fresh way, as I really reflect on my life and my relationship with Jesus.
As we watched the accompanying DVD it began with a scene of Francis getting up in the morning, the daily ritual or morning preparations that we all go through without even thinking. As he spoke, I was mentally transported back to my college years, when I first began readying through the whole bible. I remember every morning being excited to open up my bible. Praying beforehand with anticipation that God would open up His Word to me. They were excited times, and I remember reading things I had never heard in Sunday School, or at church, and having a sense that as I read my life was never going to be the same. Every day seemed fresh and wide open. Where has that feeling gone? Why don’t I come with the same anticipation and expectancy that I once had?
In the video Francis also speaks of this girl he saw in the choir that really stood out to him. Every week she seemed to sing with more passion then the week before, even when singing the same song. He finally asked her why she seemed so different. Her answer was so simple. She said that she saw God as intensely creative and that as she would approach Him in worship she had an attitude of anticipation: “Lord, create something new in my heart right now!”.
I really want this truth to sink into my heart. As we prayed for each other that we would really get a sense of how incredible God is, and that He would change our heart and attitudes, I had a mental picture in my mind about going to the ocean. Seeing the incredibly huge waves come crashing down on the shore. How it’s so easy to look at the waves from a distance and simply say they are nice. But it’s another thing to actually jump into the ocean. It’s so easy to sit at the edge of God, appreciating Him from a safe distance. Its a whole different thing to step in, to be pulled under by His strong under currents, and be sucked into Him. Would we do our simple part of getting our toes wet instead of keeping Him at arms length? …and this is the scary thing to pray for: asking that He would do His part and engulf us in His overwhelming power, taking us where He will.
Brothers, what shall we do? – Acts 2:37
They responded with repentance, baptism, selling their possessions, sharing the gospel. Our reactions are often: “Amen”, “That was convicting”, and then we continue life just as before. Take a look at your life. Are you loving others and God in the best way that you can doing what you do now? Living where you are living? Talking the way that you talk? We, often have these “Aha!” moments, but we fail to act. We need to except that God’s will for our lives, may not be the way that we are living at this moment. That He has another “way” for us, one that is counter to the individualism, selfishness, and materialism of the American Dream.
Have you every felt “I was made for this moment”? Do you believe God has crafted you with certain gifts and talents, and has placed you at this point in time for a purpose? To do things He knew before you even existed? Or do you compare your life to others and lament about what you have been given? His plan for your life may not be easy, it will even include suffering. But we must learn to listen to and obey God, especially in a society where it is easy, and even expected to do what is most comfortable.
We say things like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, but then turn around and live very ordinary lives. Lives that don’t even require faith, don’t even require God’s presents. We make excuses like “I’m waiting for God to reveal His calling in my life”, then we plop on the couch and watch TV. Was watching TV God’s calling!? We are quick to rationalize how we spend our time related to entertainment, but slow to commit to serve God. Jesus words are not “If you love me you will obey me when you feel called to”, he says “if you love me you will obey me”, period. This means putting ourselves out there. Placing ourselves in situations where we obey Jesus, even when it feels uncomfortable. Risky situations that require faith, situation that require God to come through.
This kind of living requires a shift in how we see our relationship with God. A view that realizes that if I begin to stop pursuing God, I am letting our relationship fall apart. Realizing the reality that relationships require work, and this one requires our all, deliberate pursuit of Him and full attentiveness. Remember you are not alone, as Hebrews adds there is a “great cloud of witness”, they watch and cheer us on, and we are inspired by their example. Know that what you do also will reverberate through Heaven for eternity, what you do matters. Know also that you have been given the Holy Spirit. Think about it God has given you all you need, His power, His presence, Himself.
Change happens one life at a time. Individual people living Spirit filled lives with change the Church. In Ephesians 5:18 it says “Be filled with the Spirit”, in the Greek the verb filled is in the present imperative (a continual command) and passive. This is because being filled with the Spirit is not a one time thing, but something we must do always and repeatedly, the passive element reminds us that God is the one who does it. Jesus will come back again, what will you be doing when He returns? We know that we will one day give an account. May we be able to say like Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Obsessed – to have the mind exclusively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic
Holding back is not a concept that we find in scripture. We are to be fixated on Jesus, living out a life of faith, with eyes fixed on the life to come.
People who are obsessed with Jesus…
- Give freely and openly, loving thouse that hate them and who will never love them in return.
- Aren’t consumed with safety or comfort, They want God’s Kingdom on earth, more then being shielded from pain or distress
- Live lives that connect with the poor. Seeing that they are important to God.
- Care more about pleasing God, then what others think about them. They do things that may not make sense to outside observers.
- Know that pride is a sin, never feeling humble enough, they seek to make themselves less known, and Jesus more known.
- Don’t see service as a burden, but desire to love God, by loving His people.
- Are givers, they believe that others matter just as much as they do.
- Think of Heaven, not simply focused on what is right in front of them, but focus on eternity.
- Are marked by committed, settled, passionate love for God. Putting Him before all others.
- Are raw with God, not putting on masks, but being real with Him. He is a safe place, where they find refuge, and peace.
- Have an intimate relationship with God, they are in His word every day, countering the messages of the World.
- Are concerned with their character more than comfort, realizing true joy is a gift from the hand of God.
- See faithfulness to God is top priority, Continually giving thanks to Him, knowing he can not pay God back, but excepting the reality that he is God’s beloved child.
So there is a choice to be made, do we just continue to coast through life like we have been. In a sense serving God our leftovers, or do we radically pursue Him, and love him with all our heart. We know were are not going to find fulfillment outside of Him. But we also know He is not content with anything less then all of us. Hebrews 11 is probably the best passage about those who through faith ran after God with their all. The passage includes Rahab a prostitute, David a murderer, and many others that were less then perfect, but had faith in God to come through in their dire situations. It includes Noah, who built an ark on dry land before it have ever rained, reminding us that having faith sometimes means doing things that seem crazy. The passage also includes martyrs that suffered and died not receiving what they had hoped for. A watching world may look at their loss and say what a tragedy, but Hebrews 11 holds them up as men and women to be honored. They are to be envied for their suffering was worth it. We often times want to play things safe, stay were things are comfortable, so that “even if there isn’t a God” we will have it good. But if we really want to please God first, we can’t live like that. These were ordinary men and women, who had the same relationship with God that is accessible to us (James 5:17). They made sacrifices in view of the way things really are. Similarly, we have the example of Jesus, who sacrificed himself, surrendering His life out of love for the Father.
1 John 2:6 says that “whoever claims to be in Him, must walk as Jesus did”. Are we obedient unto death? The choices you make, the things you do, do they speak this out? Matthew 25:42-45 is a frightning passage. Jesus says that those times you neglected to cloth the poor, or visit those in prision, where times you neglected Him. How would yoour life change if you really saw that reality, if every person you came in contact with, you saw as Jesus? The two greatest commandments are to Love God, and Love your neighbor, these commandments are not disjoint, but are in fact connected. In Jesus words in Matthew 25:40 he is making clear that we show tangible love for God when we care for the poor and those that are suffering. This is what love is, Jesus showed us, to lay down our lives for our brothers, to love now just with word, but in action and in truth (1 John 3:16-20).
God gave. He gave His best. He gave himself. True love requires sacrifice. One of there clearest ways we show our love is through giving. By giving, I don’t simply mean money, but so often it is our time. In fact maybe God wants us to give Him our time, and allow Him to direct us in how to use it, in ways that He sees fit. This giving is not to be done begrudgingly or out of obligation, but out of love, and when we give out of love that giving not only results in heavenly compensation, but in real heartfelt joy. Just like Jesus fed the fie thousand by dividing a little bread and fishes and giving it to his disciples to hand out to the hungry. So also we have been given much by God, not simply for ourselves but to give to others. Imagine if the disciples horded all the food for themselves, ans simply said “Thank you” to him, well watching the five thousand go hungry. Jesus says “sell you possessions and give to the poor”. We are repeatedly told in scripture to give. We may even choose to give more. But over time that giving seems to level off. Pride makes us think that we have given enough, or fear begins to worry about the future. But Jesus sends out his disciples to do ministry without any provision (Luke 9:3), forcing them to trust in God’s provision, knowing they have nothing else to fall back on. We try to seek refuge in the things we already have, or have stored up, rather then what we hope God will provide. We often organize our lives in a way that doesn’t require us to have faith. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents. The ones that took a risk and invested the money where the ones that the master rewarded. We have been entrusted with much, we are called to spend ourselves.
So the last chapter may have felt a little intense. In fact it may have even scared, you and made you think “I really need to try harder, or I’m gonna get spit out”. But the core of the gospel is not “trying harder”, the core of the gospel is “Love”. The reality is that when we are in love we will go to great lengths. God calls us to do hard things, but the motivation behind doing those things is not fear, but love for Him. Fear and guilt are not the antidote to this lukewarm Christianity, love is. What glorifies Him, is not that we act like slaves, serving Him out of obligation, but that we desire Him, ans His ways. When were in Love with Him we are free! Is that what you live for, loving Him, and by extension loving His people?
We are free to simply love Him. But unfortunately many of us fall into unhealthy patterns, where we either work really hard to pay God back (buy His love), or try really hard to make up for our failures and inadequacies (trying to prove our love). When we really take a step back we realize that living the lukewarm life isn’t really very fulfilling, or joyful. When we see love for God as an obligation, something we have to do, it not only leaves us empty, but we also end up focusing on ourselves.
God wants to change us, he even dies to change us. The solution does not lie in us trying harder, is lies in letting God change us. When we looked at the passage in Revelations about Jesus standing at the door knocking, the advise was not to “try harder”, but simply to let Him in. Something supernatural needs to happen in order for true love for God to grow in our hearts. We need the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. When we let him in and begin to run toward Him, we are freed up to love Him, serve Him, and give Him thanks, without guilt, worry, or fear. It’s only when we stop pursuing Him that we begin to find ourselves restless and gravitating towards other means of fulfillment. I’m not going to say life is perfect when you pursue Jesus first, in fact Jesus said there would be hardships, but he also said He has over come the world, so take heart.
Lets look at it another way. When I see my relationship to God as a chore or a sacrifice that I am making, that I am getting the Glory, not God. The reality is that we have nothing to offer him that He doesn’t already have, and we are always the recipients of His gifts, not the other way around. We will make “sacrifices” out of love for God at times, but may who have will tell you that the “sacrifice” was one of the most rewarding things in their lives. God’s calling us to something great, to trek out with Him, and Love. What a better “vision” then being selfish and self centered, seeking only your own comfort. No one can out give God. To listen to this advice may not change the external things you do. You may still go to church, attend bible study, etc.. But you will do these things not out of guilt or obligation, but out of Love. But what seemed like work before will now feel like love, because it will be motivated by love.
Be honest with God, has he been the most import thing in your life. If not be honest with Him, tell Him what has been put in His place. What you have chosen instead of Him. Let Him in. Tell Him that you want Him, and that even when you don’t, tell Him you want to want Him. Tell Him to take all of you, and to have His way with you.
Francis admits a the opening of this chapter that it was the hardest for him to write. I feel much the same way as I seek to summarize it. The last chapter looked at many of our poor response to God’s incredible gift of Love. It talked about “Lukewarm Christians”, but the reality is there is no such thing, the term is an oxymoron. We’ve created the term from the following passage to the church of Laodicea in Revelations:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
But it’s clear there is no gentle rendering of this text. The Greek word translated “spit”, would be better translated as gagging, hurling, or retching. Many people assume Jesus is speaking to Christians, saved people, why? They are described as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”. These are not words usually associated with believes. Believers are described elsewhere as being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, the people in this church are described as naked. The church of Laodicea may look fine on the outside, but Jesus knows the truth, and he urgings them to purchase white clothes from him, and purchase true refined gold from him. Unfortunately, the questions we ask usually show our desire to get as close to the line as possible. We may ask questions like “if I’m ashamed to share Jesus with my friends will he really deny knowing me?” or “Can I divorce my wife and still go to heaven?”. Underneath these questions is a deeper almost unthinkable question: “Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus?”. It’s not simply enough for us to say we intellectually know God. In fact James 2:19 says “You believe there is one God, Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder”. Jesus calls us to some difficult things, and they are not just suggestions: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross” Matt 16:24-25, and “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:33. The intent in sharing these things is not that believers would doubt their salvation, none of us are perfect, we fail in so many ways, and His grace covers us. Messing up once does not mean that we were never really a Christian to begin with. At the same time the words of Jesus can not simply be dismissed, as we often do, saying to ourselves “He can’t really mean that”.
It so easy for us to simply pat ourselves on the back and think that we are doing good. We throw our “scraps” of worship to God, and are proud because we perceive that there is more meat on the bones that we are throwing than those that others offer. We compare ourselves to others instead of what scripture calls us to, and we think we are doing pretty good. Even the small scraps that we do throw him are often motivated out of guilt, not wanting to give Him nothing. But this practice of throwing Him our leftovers is not only wrong, but God calls it evil in Malachi 1:8. Scripture repeats over and over that God would rather have no worship then the apathetic worship we often offer Him. He’s calling us not to offer him little trinkets of devotion, but to offer ourselves
What matters to Him, is pretty straight forward, He measures our worship by how we love. Love is often misunderstood, but Paul makes it very clear in 1 Cor 13. As we ask ourselves if we are living it out.. Am I patient? am I kind? etc.. we will see that we often fall short, and we will also see that Love takes work. But we do not work out our own salvation, trying really hard to be loving to others. But our faith when put into action will allow us to be able to be loving to individuals we might not otherwise choose to Love, because we know that God first loved us. As James write, faith not accompanied by action, is dead. God is calling us to Love even the unlovable, who may never thank us, or ever show gratitude for the sacrifices we may make to love them. Have you ever really considered that? Coming to Christ may have been a flippant, emotionally charged decision, did you count the cost of what He was asking from you? What are the things that often stand in the way of us and God. We hold on to our nice new car or other comforts, or our sin habit, or our money, not willing to let these things go even for God. Where do we invest our time, our money, our energy? These are equivalent to our choosing or rejecting of Him. Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants? Do you believe that whole hearted commitment to God is better than any thing or person? Do you believe that nothing in the world matters, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made? Jesus said that the rood is narrow, and that few find it. We cannot simply assume that we are good soil, that we are one of the few that have found the narrow road.
At the last prayer meeting Kristy lead us in a wonderful time of worship. Reminding us that we ought not to be quick to run into God presence:
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few.
So often we come to Him with our laundry list of what we want Him to do for us. Instead of simply basking in His incredible Glory. Who do we think we are? I know I am guilty of this. As we were given the space to simply sit in His presence and be this is what poured forth:
You are the origin of all beauty, of all wisdom, of all strength, of all power. Humanity desires these things because you have placed a longing for you in our hearts. You are not one dimensional like so many claim that choose to box you in. From the tiny cell of the body, to the quarks of an atom, to our solar system, our galaxy, Your majesty is shouting out at us. The human brain itself contains a virtual universe of it’s own: Thoughts, Creativity. We beings of Love made in the image of our Creator. What a wonderful world? Not a system! Not an “accident”! A work of Art! An expression of the Artist’s Love. Though one seeks to deface this art, You incorporate it into the piece. You smooth the edges, You transform the strokes, You bring light and color. You are patient in Your task, and delighting in Your work. May Your creation express You, and may it bring joy to You.