What is Love?…(baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more)

Love is a person (1 John 4:8,16). It is unchanging (Malachi 3:6), truth (John 14:6), experience (1 John 4:9, Psalm 34:8), action  (1 John 3:18) but not just actions (1 Cor 13), and emotion (Psalm 27:4, Luke 7:37-38, Psalm 73:25-26). It is the greatest thing in the world (1 Cor 13:13).  God commands the highest form of it for himself (Matt 10:37). If our focus isn’t on the love of God — both from him and to him (1 John 4:19) — we are not worthy and it is not love.

not for the faint of heart

The truth is that at some point down the road you’ll want to give up. You will grow weary of loving Jesus. It will hurt. It will literally feel like every part of you wants to run from loving others and God. Your faith will be tested. You will face hardships. I can guarantee you this.

By writing this what I mean is that things will happen in your life that will not make sense and will make you question the goodness and love of God.

You will have to choose to love the people who have betrayed you. To love the people that annoy you. You will choose to love the people who disrespect you, hurt you, take advantage of you. You will give yourself to being taken advantage of for the sake of loving someone. You will receive the humility that brings confidence and love in the midst of humiliation. You will forgive even when they don’t forgive you — especially then. You will give when they give you nothing. You will become courageous to make bold statements and say hard things people do not want to hear. You will become more concerned with offending God than people.

If or when you choose to become a Christian, you must realize this means giving up your life. Your opinions are gone. Your ambitions are gone. Your pride is gone. Your desires are gone. This is because you have chosen Jesus Christ. You have said to Him, I will love you and follow you all the days of my life. No matter what comes my way or what I desire, I proclaim that you are enough for me.

Then the great irony comes. In giving up your life you find it — to the fullest.

It will be a battle. Don’t be deceived of any façade that may have been created. Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart. But know this also: if you hold fast to Christ IN HIM you WILL be victorious. It will be worth more than anything in the world.

december playlist

1. I Turn my Camera On (Spoon Cover) – Rock Kills Kid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFPHitUc27Q

This song is literally the coolest song I’ve ever heard in my entire life and they kill it.

2. When We Were Young – Adele

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDWKuo3gXMQ

I love nostalgic music. The kind that just makes you feel all the feels the first time you listen to it — like you feel like this was “your song” several years ago — and all the emotions are coming back at once. But the song is actually a new song and it makes you feel all those things because it’s just that good. A.k.a. every Adele song — but this one’s extra special in that regard.

3. Glory and Wonder – Mosaic MSC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdxZJ569B80

All the glory and wonder
Overcome my deepest fears
Oh God our living water
You have come to meet me here

Just gonna go weep for a million years…

4. I Want to Be Lost – Robert and Evangeline

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxM12–OWRs

The sweet intimacy of this song is gold and silver…

5. One Thing (Acoustic) – Hillsong Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWgAiJCAgNM&index=1&list=TL_hYR2KrYqnYwNzExMjAxNQ

I’ve been wanting to hear an acoustic version of this song since I first heard it. This song holds a very special place in my heart…the combination of the lyrics and melody touch on a very intimate part of my relationship between me and God. Specifically this part:

I want nothing but to know you
And to be with you, my God
And with everything within me
I will worship you, my God

6. Last Days of Summer in San Francisco – Matt Nathanson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74F04AlmMrU

Just a cute song with a sweet melody!

7. All Ye Refugees – Sandra McCracken

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpTL3by3910

I put this song in the list because I thought it was fitting considering the timing and all. It’s a very beautiful song demonstrating God’s heart for the refugee and foreigner. I pray during this time in history the church would not shrink back in fear, but would go forth in the courage of the love of Jesus. The Love who has already claimed the victory.

8. Colors – Halsey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNt28Tx-cw0

I think this girl is one of the coolest artists right now. I can’t not love her vintage style, crazy colors and playful songs.

9. Saturn – Sleeping at Last

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3lWwMHFhnA

Haunting and beautiful. It can make you cry if you let it. It sounds like someone in love: the created one and the Creator.

I couldn’t help but ask
For you to say it all again.
I tried to write it down
But I could never find a pen.
I’d give anything to hear
You say it one more time,
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes

10. Everglow – Coldplay

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8jOQUsTU9o

This is as good a link as your gonna get cause Coldplay doesn’t allow their music on Youtube. I love the whimsical style they’ve picked up in their later albums. Me gusta.

11. Empty Threat – CHVRCHES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t0KwPfZMUs

Just some fun tunes from another super cool band.

12. Let the Heavens Open – Gateway Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb5WIpQ0NAE

Dat bridge doe.

13. How You Get the Girl – Ryan Adams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhSbDHhwM7k

When I found our Ryan Adams was covering Taylor Swift’s entire album I literally died. Yes, I literally died. The defibrillators came out. And I have to say this is probably my favorite song on his album. I love how he transformed it from something kinda superficial to something really sweet.

14. Our Victory – Vineyard Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09r6hKKs7rc

Your plan since time began
To rescue us this way
That darkest hour of all
Became our brightest day

He embraces the David hearts

He loves every part of our love – our pain, our misery, our honesty. When he said he wanted a relationship with us, he meant it. He wanted everything – messy parts included. He wanted all of it – the love, joy, hope, sadness, anger, heartbreak, and disappointment. He wanted the thrill of love.

He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

I think there’s a reason the Psalms are placed right in the middle of the Bible. John Calvin once said, “The Psalms are an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” For some reason God wants to teach us through people like David that he cares about our heart — its pains and its posture. It’s easy to forget this — that the great and perfect God of the universe sympathizes with our brokenness. That he loves to have mercy for us.

The book of Job is a great embodiment of this. The story is filled with incredible and seemingly unexplainable suffering in Job’s life. His three friends speak judgment to him based on the justice and sovereignty of God, while Job relentlessly laments the loss of every good thing he has ever known. Job speaks to God out of the truth of His heart, including his anger and bitterness. And his friends speak pious, God-honoring words.

But in the end, God rebuked Job’s friends and exalted Job.

What?

There are many reasons for this — honesty over empty words or understanding what it means to be a good friend — but at the end of the day it’s the recurring theme of mercy over judgment (James 2:12-13).

We see it time and again in Judges, in Jonah, here with Job, in the greatest example Jesus, and more. It’s the thing that doesn’t make sense, but delights the heart of God so much he becomes impatient without it.

It may have something to do with the fact that he’s been there…in the person of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). And in him he collided justice and mercy. And in him mercy triumphs over judgment. And in him the anatomy of the human soul is experienced by God himself. And in some inexplicable, tear-inducing reality, this is the world in which we live with our God.

We can make it complicated and difficult, but I truly believe from the very beginning until the end, this is what he has longed for. Just  a heart and its mess after his own.

Joshua 11

During the time of the judges, after Joshua died, the Israelites had turned from God at least five separate instances just by chapter 11. It’s really quite incredible. They would begin worshipping the gods of Baal and every time they would always fall into oppression, captivity, or defeat. And only in their misery would they call on the name of the Lord. And time and time again God would raise up a righteous leader to rescue his people.

However, in the book of Judges this chapter was the first time we see God drawing the line. He said no more will I rescue you. If you want to follow the idols you’ve chosen over me, then call upon them to save you. Every time you have called upon my name I’ve proved myself faithful, and you have proven unfaithful. I was the one who rescued you from all your foreign enemies. Yet you have forsaken me time and again to serve others gods. Therefore, I will deliver you no more. Go, cry to the gods you have chosen: let them deliver you in your time of distress.

And in bitter tears after hearing this the Israelites cried out to God. In all their wrongdoings and pride, they repented yet again. This is not to say they were trustworthy or that their repentance was sincere enough to rectify all that was wrong. But the fact remains that they admitted their sin and asked God to do whatever he wished with them. They prayed earnestly for Him to be the one to save them. They put away their foreign gods from among them and served the Lord.

And the heart of God is moved.

Only love can forgive that selfishness and pain.

Even then, after the line has been crossed, God’s mercy triumphed over judgement.

It’s incomprehensible.

The Bible says after Israel called upon the name of the Lord His heart became impatient over their misery. He couldn’t help it. Despite his righteous judgment of abandonment over Israel, his heart couldn’t stop. He couldn’t help but burn with a passion of mercy over his Beloved. He couldn’t deny his mercy. He couldn’t deny Himself.

And in His love he rescued her.

When I read “his heart became impatient over the misery of Israel” it felt as if my heart responded with that same impatience for God. It was this urgent uneasiness that can’t even understand its own love.

I mean he had decided that he would help Israel no more. That was his verdict. And then his people repented. And his heart became impatient over their misery! AGH. WHAT LOVE! He couldn’t stand them in misery any longer. He had to save his people. He can’t withhold his love from a repenting people.

And this is a lesson to us.

If this is God’s love for the people of Israel, even before His wrath was satisfied, how much more love does God long to lavish on us?

We move the heart of God! We horrible, sinful, fickle, selfish people literally CHANGE the decrees of God when we repent because his mercy will always triumph.

And even more, not only did he redeem his people then by saving them from the Ammonites, but he did it through a rejected, illegitimate son. Even in their redemption, he lavishes his glory upon them by choosing the weak things of this world to shame the strong.

His mercy is a testimony of his glory.

september 2015 playlist

1. Over and Over Again – Kristene Dimarco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF4OpsFpOSk

By the waters, through the flame
You will lead me and You take me
Out of shame into glory!

2. Vapor – Gungor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3-dKm1W7qQ

Kings become fools for you
Kingdoms to ruins for you
Vapor finds ground in you
Music finds sound in you

3. All Hail – Daniel Bashta

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GAcq_TpMB8

We worship the lion, we worship the lamb
All praises belong to the one who was slain
We worship our warrior, we crown you as king
Satan’s defeated he’s under our feet

4. Rejoice – Vineyard Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0sIWTSBL8k

Rejoice, our Savior is alive
Rejoice, for death has been denied
Rejoice, his majesty is here
Let our praises fill the air as we rejoice!

5. Head to the Heart – United Pursuit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK1Y6-hcxms

There’s no shame
In looking like a fool
When I give you want I can’t keep
And take a hold of you

6. For Your Glory / Send the Winds – Onething Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPLxE46ynF8

Send the winds of refreshing
God, send your Spirit
Send the winds of refreshing
God, send your glory down

7. Closer Than You Know – Hillsong UNITED

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHBd-V167Mg

Lord I hear You I know You’re there
Closer now than my skin and bones could dare
Breathing deep within me
You are always with me
I can see You where eyes can’t stare
Brighter now than the sun could ever dare
Breathing all around me
God I know You’re with me here

8. King of My Heart – John Mark McMillan & Sarah McMillan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0HEkYeSRJU

Let the king of my heart be
The fire inside my veins
And the echo of my days
Oh he is my song
You are good, good, Oh
You are good, good, Oh

9. See Me Through – Tim Reimherr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6iqWCr4mZo

As I journey on this path of life
Let me find favor in Your eyes
To walk humbly before Your eyes
Always, always
Whom have I in heaven but You
And only what You say
Will really see me through
Send forth Your light and truth
And lead me, lead me on

10. Novocaine – Night Terrors of 1927

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OSTzw9D1U8

I’m willing to bend until I break
But I don’t know how much more I can take
We are numb now to the pain, the pain
Cold ghost town with empty streets
Stars light up the blackened sea
Let me be