Reckless Love

This week at church, I’ve received the pleasure of being able to lead the entire worship service. Typically, I am only able to lead 1-2 songs as my church does a blend of traditional (choir and organ) and contemporary (Praise Band) worship styles. However, this week has the added blessing of it being Mother’s Day.

Anyway, this week’s worship song is “Reckless Love.” I hadn’t realized that there was a controversy surrounding this song, and it all centers around the word “reckless.” God’s love makes no sense to us. He will always do things for us that seems reckless to you and me. To God, this love is not reckless, as he knows what He is doing and it is fairly calculated. Of course, I would land on this side of the controversy as I am also in the “sloppy wet kiss camp” of “How He Loves.” Take a listen below and spend the time considering the ways that God loves you!

This Week’s Set

  • Sing to the King
  • Sweetly Broken
  • Always
  • Here’s My Heart
  • Reckless Love
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The Return of the Heart Man Blog

The blog is returning. Content will change a little, but the important pieces will still be there. Help me decide how to make the blog better!

It has been almost 4 years since the last regular/serious post on this blog. As we are approaching the 5th anniversary since I first published a post, I began asking what the cause of this could be. I hit it hard and wrote a lot in that short one-year time span. I’ve written various posts throughout the past 4 years, but never hit the publish button. I haven’t felt the drive to write anymore, but in the past few weeks, things have been changing. I’m thinking its time to bring the Heart Man back.

Content is probably going to change a bit, as I am not the same person I was 4 years ago. God called David a man after his own heart. I seriously doubt that David only sought to please God in the temple with his theological knowledge, rather, he used his entire life. The content you can still expect from me is Bible studies, worship notes, and random musing on what I’ve been studying. I’m going to try to add things that are more relevant to the day-to-day life: anecdotes from my life, book reviews for you to check out, and maybe the occasional devotional reading.

I won’t be posting every day anymore; that is crazy with the way my life is now. I haven’t decided on a frequency yet, but I know that you should probably expect 1-2 posts a week. If you’ve got something from this blog in the past, leave me a comment telling me what you’ve enjoyed. I’d love to begin a dialogue between us about what content you’d like to see on this blog. So post below what you’d like to see. I’m still in the process of developing content before I begin publishing again.

Are You Too Small?

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Juday,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
–Micah 5:2, NASB

Have you ever thought that you were too small, or too unimportant, for God to care about? This is a thought that has often plagued my own mind. “God, I’m a nobody. What can you do with me?” Yet still, He gives me more to do.

I believe that God often looks for the ones who are overlooked, in order for His glory to shine the most. Jesus spoke on the mountain, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, … God blesses those who are humble” (Matthew 5: 3 & 5, NLT).  It’s the people that the world looks down upon, that God’s power shines through the most.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
–Matthew 5:3, NLT

If you are doubting your worth, or do not understand how God can use you, remember this: God created you. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139: 13, NASB). He cares deeply for you and created you with a purpose. I do not know what that purpose is. I even have a hard time knowing my own purpose. Yet I still trust that God will continue to show me why He put me on this earth. During this Advent season, let us pray for God to help us learn the reason why we are here.

Become More Like Christ for Advent

“Then a shot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
Anad a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And He will delight in the fear of the Lord,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
But with righteouness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteouness will be the belt about His loins,
And faithfulness the belt about His waist.”
–Isaiah 11:1-5, NASB

This is a really big post for this site. This will be the 200th post and the first one I’ve made in over 21 months! As we head into the Advent season this year, I thought it would be a good time to begin using this tool again. I won’t be posting daily like I used to, but I do aim for weekly posts.

This week’s Scripture comes out of Isaiah. Isaiah is writing about a person who will be a descendant of Jesse. This person will be filled with the Spirit, wise, and knowledgeable. Israel rightly believed that this is a list of attributes for the Messiah. We know, today, that Jesus fulfills each of these attributes. What can this mean for us today during this season?

As we walk out our faith, there is one thing we should always be doing; we should be becoming more like Christ. That means we should be working to be full of the Spirit, wise, and knowledgeable.

When we accept Christ into our lives there is something amazing that happens to us. Paul writes, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB) Part of this change is that you receive the Holy Spirit live inside of you. Many people to tend to ignore this or just brush it off, but think about it for a moment. Our understanding of God is found in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means for us, there is a piece of the Almighty that lives within you! That’s how Paul can write later in his ministry, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31b, NASB) The Creator lives inside of each and every one of His believers, so there should be no reason that the Church should be afraid.

How can we become wise? This seems like an odd question. Wisdom feels like a thing you are either born with or not. The early church leader, James, writes “But if any of you lacks in wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5, NASB) We simply have to ask God for more wisdom and He gives it. It’s what we do with that wisdom that really matters. I believe that wisdom is a gift from God to help lead His people. It isn’t for our own benefit, but God’s.

Becoming more knowledgeable seems to have an easy answer, just read/study your Bible more. While this is true, it truly is only part of the entire picture. In order for us to become more knowledgeable, we must filter our entire lives through the lens of Christ. This helps us see how God is moving through the world’s events and through the events/people of our lives.

We should also be reading. Reading what, though? Read your Bible. Read the newspaper. Read blogs. Read books. Read teachings from good teachers. While there are many good reasons to read, Reading gives you new knowledge and exposure to new ideas. You simply cannot grow in knowledge without reading something.

As we begin this Advent season let’s think about how we can become more like Christ, accept the Holy Spirit, gain wisdom, and learn about God.

Don’t be Scared of People

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Alright, let’s all take a second and freak out. Yes! I am posting again.

I came to realize I started this blog, I should probably get back to it. I don’t know if anyone is reading it, but it certainly helps me on my walk with the Lord. The Heart Man has a simple purpose, just look at the tagline, “Discovering how to be a man after God’s own heart.” My life has changed quite a bit over the past year, but one thing has honestly stayed the same, I’m still seeking to be a man after God’s own heart.

Today I was reading my devotion; the passage was on Proverbs 29:25. It reads, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that” (MSG). This means to us that when we fear what other people’s opinion of us is more than God’s, we are often kept from either doing the right thing or keeping in step with God. How many times do we see someone, whether it’s a complete stranger or someone you know well, and they are struggling with something. We know what their help can be. We know who can best help them, no matter the situation. But how many times do we actually speak with them about Jesus? Instead, we often tell ourselves that they would not be interested in the Gospel or they are already against it so why bother. I think this shows us more of an issue with ourselves than with the person we are not talking to. When we don’t share the gospel, we are either showing we don’t love Jesus as much as others opinions of us, or we don’t love the person as much as we think we do. If God’s opinion of us is what matters most, this entire problem is done away with. You want want to disappoint your God, so you will actively tell people about their Savior.

My hope for you today is that you can turn away from the fear of man. It keeps us from doing the very work that God put us on this earth to do. Instead turn your eyes to the one who loves you most. This will give you the strength to not only do your daily tasks, but you will also be able to win hearts and souls for Christ.

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that” — Proverbs 29:25, MSG

Relationships and Getting Prepared (Ephesians 6)

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As we all know, marriage is not the only relationship that we have in this life (aside from our relationship with God). We are also sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, and slaves and masters. These relationships must also display the same sacrificial love that I spoke about yesterday. Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right (6:1, NASB). No matter what we are to listen to our parents. It is even one of the big 10 rules God gave us, the Ten Commandments. When we obey and respect our parents, we show our understanding of God’s authority over us. Just like our parents did when we were little, God sometimes asks us to do thing that we don’t quite understand. We must obey what our Heavenly Father is asking of us, in order to show him honor and glory.

Paul then turns his eyes on parents. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (6:4, NASB). I know it says “fathers”, but honestly it can be applied to mothers as well. As parents, we should not intentionally do things to harm our children. In speaking about prayer, Jesus asks these questions to the crowd at the Mount, “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?” (Matthew 7:9-10, NASB). Jesus is talking about God taking care of us, and having our best interests at heart. This same relationship, should be the one that we have in relation to our own children. Care for them and have their best interests at heart.

Some of you may have given your screen a second look when I said “slaves and masters”. I assure you that this relationship still exists in its most basic form, only today we call it employer and employee (or government and citizen). As slaves, it is our duty to obey the authority placed over us. We get this from another of Paul’s writings, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13;1, NASB), or in Jesus’ own words “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11, NASB). We should treat all authority over us as if it where actually God giving these commands (so long as it aligns with God’s Word). As masters, we are to realize that everyone under our authority is a loved creation of God. We cannot abuse these people and exploit them so that our lives can become a little easier. No matter what, we are not the true masters. Everything has been given to us on loan from the real master in Heaven.

Finally we come to the armor of God. I know that I have heard dozens of sermons and read tons of teachings on the subject of the armor. All I will say is that this armor represents our need to be secure in God, and be prepared for the battles that face us everyday. At some point, we will be questioned for our faith. Someone will ask questions that can shake you if you are not prepared. Knowing who we are in Christ, and knowing what God’s Word has to say to us, is the best thing we can do to prepare for that day. It’s coming, are you ready?

Paul teaches us how to live out our day to day lives in this chapter. No matter what, you have one of these relationships facing you today and the need for preparation for battle. Spend time in the Word everyday. That is my best suggestion I could ever make. Don’t just read your Bible, that doesn’t count. Simply reading your Bible is an intellectual exercise that will barely scratch the surface of what Scripture can do for you. Pray through the Bible. Ask God to show you what you need for the day. Ask Him to enter into your time with Him. This allows us to be prepared for the battles, and helps us to be more like Him in our relationships. It’s hard to be imitators of someone we do not spend much time with. So spend time. I provided some Psalms to pray today if you need some help getting started. But give this practice a chance. It will help you polish your armor and get you ready for the day.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 4-6

Also in this Series:

You Before Me (Ephesians 5)

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Paul is calling us to act like God. If we really look at what it means to be a Christian, this makes total sense for our theology. Jesus Christ is God, and we are his followers, so naturally we are trying to imitate God in our daily lives. Paul writes, “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (5:1-2, NASB). Paul goes on to describe what this lifestyle looks like; putting away immorality, impurity, greed, filthiest, “silly talk”, foul language, and inappropriate joking and taking up a life of thankfulness. Paul recognizes this to be the way of the world. Christ calls us to be humble and thankful.

I think of a story within Jesus’ life. In Jesus’ time, it was customary for slaves to come and wash the feet of dinner guests, especially for a special dinners. Before the start of Christ’s final meal, he took up a towel and a water basin and proceeded to wash the disciples feet. He humbled himself before them. Being God, he was obviously deserving of all the disciples washing his feet, but he showed them that as his followers they were to take a lowly position so that others may be taken care of. (John 13:5-20)

Paul goes on and shows that our relationships with each other mirror Christ’s relationship to the Church. Paul first shows this through the marital relationship. Just like the wives are to be submissive and obedient to their husbands, so must the Church be to Christ. However, husbands get a much lengthy call from Paul in this letter. Husband are to be sacrificial for their wives. Husbands must give up everything, even their own lives, so that their wives are taken care of. In this same way, Christ died for the Church for her own good.

Can we live this sort of life today?  Let’s sit there for a second. Can we really live out this life of sacrificial love for one another that Christ has modeled for and called us into?

 

Too many times we hear about selfishness and greed ruling the world. Phrases like “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” and “we just grew apart” show me that this lifestyle is rarely known in our world. We have been called to stand out in our world. Paul writes in another letter, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NASB). This world tells us to look out for #1, while Christ shows us to look out for everyone else. Christ died for you and me when he did not have to. God could have chosen to let us all suffer the consequences of the Fall, and many of us do. But thanks to Jesus, we no longer have to suffer that punishment. We should be sacrificial in all of our relationships. Always giving up what we want, so that others may get what they need. I’m not saying that Christians should be in poverty so the rest of the world can prosper, but we tend to get too caught up in our own wants and desires we rarely stop to think about anyone else. Christ modeled a life of sacrifice for us to follow. I suggest that if we want to call ourselves Christians, we stop worrying about ourselves and start worrying about others.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 1-3

Also in this Series:

Being Unified (Ephesians 4)

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Today’s chapter is all about us being unified together. This isn’t some misplaced version of solidarity where we have to bicker until one person’s views are accepted above another’s. This unity that Paul speaks of is the Church moving together with one goal. What is that goal you may ask? This goal is Jesus Christ. Above all other things, Jesus must be seen as the loftiest goal for the Church to reach. Paul wrote in Philippians, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NASB).

So how do we, knowing all the different theological stances, move forward in this way? Paul writes, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (4:2, NASB). We cannot do it combating each other for who is right. Instead we have to let each other believe what we believe so long as Christ is the main focus. If Christ is not the main focus than we have replaced God with a false idol. Anything less than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot be in the highest attainable spot in our lives. Theology can take us down many roads, that’s where all these denominations come from. But the Bible teaches that there can only be one pursuit, and that is God through Jesus Christ.

Let me give you an example of how a church looks when Christ is not at the center. Imagine a church that can take a passage of Scripture like Leviticus 18:22, and turn it into a message of hate. This message is so powerful that it becomes the focal point of this church and it is what they are most know for. A message so powerful that it causes them to create signs that read “God Hates F**s”. This becomes what the church is known for. It is associated with hate, and that’s all they are. I’m sure they started out trying spread the gospel, but at some point it became more important to hate people and make outcasts, than to spread the love that can be found in Jesus Christ.

Jesus wants us to be unified together, not fighting among each other over who is right. Fighting causes us to get mad, which leads to uncontrolled anger (which we all know is a sin). Paul writes, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; don not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity.” (4:26-27, NASB). It is true that someone is right, and someone is wrong. That’s just the way of Creation. But is it more important for you to be right, or for you to be seeking Christ?

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 143-146

Also in this Series:

The Love of God (Ephesians 3)

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Paul spends most of this chapter reaching out to the Gentiles. His mission that was given to him, by both God and the apostles in Jerusalem, was to minister to the Gentiles. Before Christ, the Gentiles were widely regarded as outsiders by the Jews. Their belief was set around their status as the “chosen people”. This led them to believing that the Gentiles would not be a part of whatever salvation the Messiah would bring. However, Jesus and Paul thought differently. The basis of salvation is not by who you were born to, but is rather based on faith. Paul writes, “to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:6, NASB). This is Paul telling the Gentile and Jewish Christians, that the Gentiles are just as much a part of God’s Kingdom as the Jews.

It would seem that the Ephesians church is having a problem that was very common during Paul’s ministry. This problem was that Jewish Christians would come in and tell the Gentile Christian that they were somehow  of less significance or would have to conform to a Jewish lifestyle before they could be saved. We know this is wrong today, but it was something that many people believed then. Paul’s answer to this is the knowledge of God’s love. He tells them that he is praying for them; specifically he is praying that they learn about God’s love, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (3:17-19, NASB). The love of Christ is so all-consuming, that there would be no way for the Church to focus on things like Jews over Gentiles. Instead their focus would be to love each other, and spread the love to everyone else.

This is a message that I believe still rings true for us today. We can get all caught up in living in a way that honors God that we forget why we do it. Yes, we should live a life that reflects Scripture. We should stand up for our faith, and oppose the things that God opposes. But I feel that there are people, especially some in the media and politics, that portray our faith as a list of rules that if we don’t make everyone follow they will all go to hell. Well I have news for those people; if they don’t believe in Christ, they’re going to hell anyway. No amount of forcing anything is going to help their salvation. As a matter of fact, it will more than likely push them away. Is that really the life that Christ showed us to live? Is that really living a Christian life?

Christ said to the people, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). People can become weary when they are being told they are wrong all the time, or that their life should actually look like “this”. Jesus wants those people, and so should we. We should not be the cause of their stress. We should take them in and show them the love of Christ. We should take in the teenage mother, and tell her that Jesus loves her. We should hug the homosexual and tell them that God’s loves them. We should spend time with the felon, and share the love that God has given us. The point, I guess, is that God has given us so much love, we cannot contain it; we have to spread it.

Love does not come from following rules, following rules comes from love. If we love God, we will follow the rules. But we cannot force people to follow the rules and say that it is love. Love comes from personal experience. We cannot lead people to that experience if we are constantly pushing them away. So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s give “Bible-thumping” a rest. It isn’t helping our cause any. God is love, and we should be wanting to share that with everyone. Only God can “fix” people, so let’s trust Him to do that. We can just share Him with every single person we come into contact with.

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 139-142

Also in this Series:

Life in Christ (Ephesians 2)

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For a long time, I had a belief that I feel most people have; my sin makes me a bad person. Why wouldn’t I believe that? I had people all over Christiandom telling me that. When I came to Christ, I still felt the same way. If sin was something that is bad, how can my sin not make me a bad person. Over the last year or two, I have heard a new take on what sin does. The crazy thing is that it falls more inline with Scripture than the previous belief, sin makes you dead. Paul writes at the beginning of this chapter, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” (2:1, NASB). He’s saying that because of our sins we are actually dead. This has no moral standing like good or bad, it is simply your state. However we do not want to be dead, so we must seek out how to fix it. This is what the rest of the chapter is about. We can be made alive in Christ!

This belief is not meant strictly for the Church. We as believers are not the only ones that have the ability to be made alive in Christ, just the only ones who have accepted it. In truth, Christ died for all. That’s every single person, EVER. You know that bum that lives down the street? He is included. You know that couple you see holding hands at the park that look a little different than you? They are included. You know the politician on TV that you just can’t seem to understand? He/She is included right along with the rest of us. Christ died in order to bring everyone closer to himself. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (2:13, NASB). Since Christ brings us close, we cannot push people away because they do not conform.

The truth is that sin is everywhere and does not look the same on everyone. As the people of God, who have been made alive, it is our duty to help bring others to life as well. Think about it. When someone is lying unresponsive, who’s going to help them, a living person or a corpse? Our life in Christ gives us the power to make a real difference in the world. We cannot sit high and mighty and dictate how everyone is doing wrong. Jesus did not do that. Instead we should be speaking in love and guiding people to a right relationship with God. Sometimes that does lead to a confrontation, but it should not be how it starts. Let God work on their heart. He can fix their problems, you cannot.

To those who might just now be starting along this path, I want to offer some encouragement. God has rules and they seem pretty intimidating. We all live with sin in our lives, but through Christ we are working to get over that sin. It will never totally be gone, but it gets better. So you maybe sitting there thinking, “It’s too hard, I can’t do it. I can’t get that close to God. I’m unworthy…” I’m here to tell you that there was a day that I felt that same way. There are days now that I feel that way. But God offers us hope and peace in His Word. “And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,” (2:17-19, NASB).

 

Also in this Series: