LOVE NEVER FAILS


We all  experience  the presence of buoyancy time and again. Whether I am enjoying the simplicity of an afternoon of fun and relaxation in the park, a social gathering in the community or an intimate get together with friends/family, I have found that the term “I love……” is used far more frequently today. The statement “Oh my God, I love………” is a popular phrase  both young and older people have coined into their mode of expressing this powerful emotion.  Quite honestly, I hear the phrase “I love…….” being used so often that I have begun to question the nature of the sentiment.

Do you ever find yourself asking the question, “Are you serious? You don’t even know________?  This inquiry seems to really surface when I hear people describe artistry – music, art, poetry,

John Legend~Get Lifted
John Legend~Get Lifted (Photo credit: bamalibrarylady) There’s More to It!

dance, etc. – as people are describing how what they see and hear affects them to their core. John Legend is a gifted male musician/vocalist. His timeless hit “Ordinary People” moved many fans to listen to that song over and over again. We could not hear it enough when it hit the airwaves; we bought the CD in bulk to give to friends/family as gifts; we flocked to his concerts to hear his live version and I am sure that even now, after many more tunes he may perform, nothing will stir the crowd more than when he begins to play the opening cords to “Ordinary People.”  If you ever found yourself caught up in the storm that was “Ordinary People” you may have said “I love John Legend.”

I can not begin to understand why love is such a flippant expression. Personally, I believe that my own personal entanglement with the human elements attached to the expectations of “love” have challenged my perspective on how I receive the term when I hear it.  Today I am not so quick to readily apply my personal understanding of love to another person’s expression of love. It is fair play to naturally navigate through the varied currents of love with a relative outlook.  But one thing that I can understand about love, no matter how trivialized, over emphasized or grandiose it may be is this – LOVE NEVER FAILS.

People fail. Systems fail. Every aspect of human experience has the potential to fail. How can you love something or someone else when you don’t love yourself through your own failures?  A battle between the intellect and the emotion continues. But God is LOVE! He is the solution to every issue with love. Everything that He Is is LOVE. From the onset of Creation until today and beyond, FAILURE IS NOT IN HIS repertoire. His example is not to be understood but instead, trusted.

We ALL need Love and we NEED to be able to express true, unconditional love.  Life breeds love of all types. Often times, the love that I hear about and even describe today is absent of depth. It can be turned on/off at a whim. This is dangerous.

An assessment on the state of the heart (https://conquerorshots.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/check-up-on-the-heart/) will reveal the subsequent harm done to a person’s core if you are willing to be honest about what love truly is. (I Corinthians 13) There can be an enormous debate over the fluidity of love. Because it stems from the core i.e. the heart, human interpretation is subject to many differences of opinions.

Here at ConquerorShots we are united in the belief that if you want to understand, practice and experience true love, God is the reference source. Specifically, if ever you are perplexed over the idea of what love truly is, what it does and how to give and receive it, we recommend a trip to Calvary and all of the details including the Resurrection for the most honest, revealing, life-enriching display of love. It will shape your life’s existence of true love and provide you with wisdom to know otherwise.

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A Presence of COURAGE


Courage
Courage (Photo credit: drp)

In my teen years we used to sing a song in the choir – “I’m determined to walk with Jesus-yes I am.” Through hard trials, tribulations, persecutions, I am Determined… I’m Determined to walk with Jesus, yes I am.”  It had an infectious bass line that pounced down deep in the souls of all who heard it with a reverberating, spiritual anchor. A simple yet powerful display of the presence of COURAGE.

This type of determination I speak of must have it’s origins securely connected to a firm foundation. I have found it to be a compelling gift to be able to assess when it is present and when it is not. I know that there are many times when my faith in Christ and the finished work at Calvary gives me courage to stand in the midst of hardships. I have just too many examples to refuse this reality. But, I must admit there are times when my human side shows up. Then, and only then, is my determination to walk with Jesus hindered.

I am glad that we have Joshua 1 to remind us all of what the presence of COURAGE in us looks like. In the first 9 verses God repeatedly offers Joshua this vital instruction – “Be strong and of a good COURAGE” 2 times and  “Be thou strong and very COURAGEOUS”. Then towards the end of the chapter he again states “Be strong and of a good COURAGE.”  By the 10th chapter God once again felt the need to ONCE AGAIN REPEAT “Be strong and of a good COURAGE.”

Thank God for repetition! He is so gracious. How many times has he repeated something in your life? Are you listening? I know this Divine teaching principle has always been at work in my life. For so long I was too caught up in my human affairs to even pay attention to the  subtle messages God was teaching me through repetition. It took God’s consistent faithfulness in and over my life to get me to yield to his Word. But in the text, Joshua was a quick learner. He was listening to God’s Word so intently that by verse 18 it appears that the message was thoroughly received – “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE JOSHUA!”

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” Ephesians 6:10 comes to mind as we define what strength was required. Joshua was going to encounter many adversaries – some of which were superior to his military preparedness. Joshua had to rely on the Strength of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to overpower the might of the earthly armies along the way. If he were naive enough to disregard God’s instruction – “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE JOSHUA” – he would not have realized the success that God was calling him and the children of Israel to. It stands to reason hear how difficult it must have been for Joshua to disregard ALL human efforts to succeed and rely TOTALLY on the STRENGTH AND POWER of God’s Word EXCLUSIVELY. Imagine how Joshua had to encounter the men under his command who would see the mission from the prospective of human eyesight and how he had to CONSTANTLY remind them of the importance of FAITH IN GOD’S WORD! It seems to me that the more opposition he faced, the more inclined Joshua was to exercise DETERMINATION to do it God’s way and thereby continue to bask in the presence of COURAGE.

We often times get sidetracked from the presence of COURAGE because we put so many unsubstantiated demands on ourselves on how a DETERMINED response should look like. “I should have said this” “I could have done it this way” “Why can’t I be like ……..” “If only I had ……. faith”  “God I want to be like……” Clearly the demands we place on ourselves to be what or who we are not capable of being – AT THE TIME – are designs of bondage that keep us from being the person we are at that moment and relying on God’s Word exclusively.  Joshua never seemed to experience a dilemma getting ready for God to demonstrate His power. He merely was who He was called to be – the son of Nun and Moses’ right hand trained to one day lead – who was given Divine and SPECIFIC instructions on how to succeed moving forward. He did not have to encounter all of the self help gurus, the constant barrage’ of success stories that dictate how human success works and constant reminders of how success is SUPPOSED to look. NO! He was under the tutelage of Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Shammah and Jehovah Tsori just to drop some names 🙂

What a travesty it would have been if Joshua was so egotistical to respond to God by saying, “OK God, I hear you. I will get the ranks ready and we are going to make you proud of us. I am going to do my best. You will not be ashamed of me God, I won’t let you down. I got it God. We will be strong in our might and skill sets, our military growth and our courage to win will not go unrealized.” This is why God makes a SPECIFIC attempt to repeat the message “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE, JOSHUA.”

Guess what, God is doing the same repetition today. Are you so busy telling God how you are going to get the job done that you are not basking in the the reality of His Sovereignty? – “IT’S ALREADY DONE!” A presence of COURAGE is so peaceful. You can be assured that God will do EXACTLY what He is going to do and no one or nothing can prevent His will from prevailing. The more Joshua practiced this “single-mindedness” the more he realized victory and success. It worked then and it is STILL working today.

THANK YOU LORD FOR THE PRESENCE OF COURAGE.

When God Stops Talking: The Dark Night of the Soul March 17, 2012


Does it ever fe…

by jonbalun

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Does it ever feel like God has stopped talking to you? How do you react to that? Do you panic? Do you pray louder? Are you tempted to quit believing altogether? This time of silence is very common, but rarely talked about. Some refer to it as a “wilderness experience.” Others call it the winter season of life. The best descriptive term I have heard is “The Dark Night of the Soul.” It can last days, months, or even years. It is often misdiagnosed as depression, but it goes much deeper because it doesn’t just affect your mind or your emotions; it affects your soul. Here are some of the symptoms:

1. What used to work doesn’t work anymore

When I was a young Christian, I felt God’s presence all the time. If at any time I didn’t feel His presence when I thought I should, I would just pray harder or read my favorite passage of Scripture or listen to Christian music or anything else that gave me goose bumps and helped me feel God again.

One day I realized that I had not felt God’s presence in quite a while. I tried all of the remedies that used to work, but I felt nothing. During this time, God taught me that I can’t press a button and find God; that would make ME God.

2. Basic disciplines like prayer, reading the Bible, and going to church actually make you feel worse

I have heard people complain that they “can’t hear God” or “it feels like God is far away.” Often well-meaning people advise them to pray more or read the Psalms or go to a soup kitchen. Though this is generally good advice, during the Dark Night these things might actually make you feel worse. That doesn’t mean you should stop praying; it just means that it has become an act of faith just to pray because it no longer energizes you and you don’t feel like God is listening. God is letting you mature by holding back that conditioned response that used to motivate you to do spiritual things.

Think about it. As a child, you had to be bribed to eat your vegetables. As an adult, hopefully you learned to eat broccoli even if it looks and tastes like tiny trees. Or maybe as a child you would only drink your medicine if it tasted like bubblegum. As an adult, you take your medicine even if it tastes like, well, medicine. You do these things because they are good for you – even if it might even hurt a little. It is the same thing for your spiritual health. There comes a point in time when you don’t like doing spiritual exercises, but know you need to in order to become stronger.

3. One or more “Christians” have told you that you have lost your faith

“I haven’t seen you at church in a while. Did you backslide?” “God never stops talking; you just stopped listening.” “Turn that frown upside down. Today is the day the Lord has made!” Christians can say the stupidest things or the right things at the wrong moments. If it bothers you at all that God might have stopped talking to you, then that proves you care. You’re still saved, but you’re going through something that some Christians can’t relate to. Don’t worry about it. Sooner or later, they’ll go through something similar.

4. You have begun questioning everything you believe in – even the basics like “Does God exist?” “Are all my sins forgiven?” “Does God really have a plan for me or has He forgotten about me?”

Though many experience it in different ways, the Dark Night of the Soul is nothing new. Peter wrote about it to the persecuted church in 1 Peter. While many were wondering whether they should give up and abandon their faith, Peter said it was actually through their faith that God’s power was shielding them. (1:5) To drop their shield of faith would not only lead to their destruction here and now, but they would also be giving up their inheritance (heaven). He encouraged them not to give up “the living hope” that they had from Jesus’ resurrection – not a wishful hope like “I hope it doesn’t rain today” but a living hope that since God already raised Jesus from the dead, we can be sure that He will raise us from the dead to be with Him forever in heaven. Peter then explains,

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Notice three things about this passage.

  1. There are “many different trials” that we might go through, but God is the judge and He is controlling the trial.
  2. Though it might feel like an eternity, the trials will only be “for a little while.” Take courage, it is darkest before the dawn.
  3. If you endure the trial, you can be sure that your faith is genuine. The trial isn’t for God – He already knows if you genuinely believe in Him or not. The trial is for you so that you can grow to a more mature faith that is not based only on what you can see or how you feel at the moment.

If you are going through the Dark Night, know that you are not going through it alone. God walks with you and only lets your hand go so your faith can grow as He leads you through the stormy valley silently. Though you cannot touch Him or hear Him to know for sure that He is there, know that He is by your side protecting you the whole time while your faith is proven genuine and grows like it only could during such an experience. Remember Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)

You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here
Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It’s more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

How do we comprehend peace within pain?
Or joy at a good man’s wake?
Walk a mile with the woman whose body is racked
With illness, oh how can she laugh?
Oh, ’cause sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It’s more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

Emmanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
We never walk alone
And this is our hope

(“Our Hope Endures” performed by Natalie Grant)