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Passionate Love

Our pastor is teaching a series through the book of the Revelation. This morning’s passage was on the church at Laodicea. I’ve read this passage before and sat through many series on the letter to the seven churches. This morning God showed me something new and it nearly broke my heart.

This group of believers has often been held up as the lukewarm church. Some have gone as far as to say they weren’t a church but more of a social club or even a cult. But the Amen addressed them as a church and calling them anything less than what He calls them seems like dangerous ground to stand on. He goes on to say He knows their deeds. Sounds familiar. He is intimately knowledgeable about all the deeds of His churches but what shouted out to me from the pages this morning wasn’t the transgression of a church that had cooled but not frozen. All I could see in that passage this morning was the incredible passion Christ had for that church.

Those four little words at the beginning of verse 19 “Those whom I love!” The letter to Laodicea wasn’t so much about them as it was and is still about Him. All of the letters to the churches say the same thing. “You have fallen short but I love you!” “You have problems but I love you!” “You are My churches and I love you!”

Before anything else He was going to show John He wanted the churches in the condition they were in to know His heart. They were His and He loved them.

The only hope the fallen, failing, lukewarm, broken have is that He loves us. No matter where we started our journey, no matter where we are today, the message is still the same. See His heart for His people. Don’t let the failure of the church be the focus. It wasn’t His focus. His focus was still on loving them and reaching them. Why would He stand at the door and knock if He didn’t want to come in? He wouldn’t He doesn’t. He stands and knocks because He loves.

“To the angel of the church write….I love you!”

3D Christmas

I’ve been having a little trouble getting into the “Christmas Spirit” this year. Couldn’t put my finger on the problem until this morning when I drove past a Nativity on the lawn of a local church. They put up the same display every year. It’s cut out painted plywood.

In the time it took to drive past the shepherd with his sheep, the three wise men and the little family in the center I realized what was missing. So far my Christmas has been very much like the nativity made of plywood. Very two dimensional.

It has length.I mean this is my 48th Christmas. I have a nice long history, some really good solid traditions and enough happy memories to consider Christmas a positive part of my life story.

It has height. There’s a very tall tree on the front porch soaking up water and waiting to push the boundary of my living room ceiling like those ambitious pines and firs of the past. I have 14 storage boxes of decorations stacked up in the living room to deal with before the tree can make it’s grand entrance.

But what I’ve been missing, what the plywood nativity so clearly reminded me, is depth. The deep eternal mystery of Christmas is what my heart was longing for. The richness of the Gift given freely but at a cost incalculable and immeasurable. So this afternoon with a fire in the fireplace and all those boxes of decorations my heart is remembering the meaning each represents. The love and thankfulness of Christmas through the years. The tall list of blessings and friends and joy this past year but all made real by the depth of the One who’s depth I will spend eternity celebrating.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May you have a 3 dimensional Christmas this year.

Only the names have been changed…

In 1970 cartoonist Walt Kelly famously paraphrased a famous quote for an Earth Day poster that featured characters from his long-running strip Pogo and mourned the sad state of the environment.”We have met the enemy, and he is us” it read. This came to mind last night during a discussion over dinner. I made the following statement “If your message and the message of your enemy are the same with only the names reversed you are the same as your enemy.” Matt asked me who said that. I said “I did, just now.”

It got me to thinking which usually gets me to writing. If the names were changed would I say some of the things I say? Would you? Our words are a reflection of our heart toward others but shout most loudly about our own heart first. Does the kindness in me see the kindness in you? Or does my insecurity about my fashion choices cause me to question yours? Does my mercy received reflect in my mercy extended? Does my quiet reserve look like your unfriendly coldness or does my unfriendly coldness look like your quiet reserve? Does my fear of your rejection cause you to reject me first? Or does my open acceptance make way for your own?

There is a line from a movie that says “People do not see the world as it is but as they are”.

Today I am considering the message…only the names have been changed.

What I Want For Christmas

In one word that sums up what I truly want for Christmas.
I want to spend time with people I love and who love me.
I don’t want anyone to think they have to spend time with me for any other reason.
I want to know those I love are safe and healthy and happy.
I want to be forgiven for every mistake I’ve ever made or wrong word I’ve ever spoke.
I want people to take responsibility for their own lives and stuff.
I want one real family not a bunch of fragmented blended legally related people.
I want traditions that have deep roots and long reaching branches.
I want Christmas to mean something.
I want miracles.

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