Why Would I Have Enemies?

0102043368700I remember Jesus saying to “agape my enemies.” Then I had to think for a minute, “who are my enemies,” and then, “why do I have enemies?” Enemies, that’s a pretty harsh thing. Enemies? Do you know what the definition of enemy is? An enemy is somebody who hates or seeks to harm somebody or something. Wow! Do I have someone who hates me or wants to do me in? I don’t have any connections with the mafia (that I know of.) I don’t know of anyone personally who dislikes me that badly.

Now, there are people who probably don’t like my personality or the work I’m doing, but I don’t think they would consider me their enemy. Certainly I wouldn’t think of them being MY enemy. Jesus even used the word “enemies,” plural. Can you imagine having, not one but, several enemies?

You say, yeah, I have enemies. Really? Why? What have you done or what have they done to you that caused this?

I know that America has enemies because of our belief in capitalism and freedom. I know that there are people, groups and even nations that would love to see our country collapse into oblivion–but to have personal enemies? That’s pretty unusual.

But, nevertheless, do you realize what we are to do if we have enemies? Agape them. Are you kidding me? No, I’m not. Now, if you are to agape them, your enemies, how much more should you agape those who are not your enemies? Is that person who lives with you your enemy? No? Then agape them. Is that person with whom you work your enemy? No? Then agape them too. How about your boss? Is he or she your enemy? No? Then agape him or her.

Jesus was serious about this agape stuff. He wanted others to know about His Kingdom because of our agape and nothing else. If we agape our enemies and show them God’s agape, then how much more will our friends, co workers and family know that we agape them too?

Agape takes on all kinds forms, actions and words. What can you do today to show that agape lives and breathes in you? Agape is a strong word. It is an amazing supernatural emotion. How about giving someone a hug today that you wouldn’t normally hug? How about giving someone a kiss that you normally would not kiss? How about doing something more that just nice for someone that you normally would not do something nice for?

When they ask why you did it, just say you’re practicing on them so that when it comes to performing agape on your enemies, you’ll be perfect.

That is, if you have enemies…

That’s what I think about it.

DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo10

Advertisements

You See Them Everyday

les9fig10Have you ever given yourself permission to leave your circumstances and situations just to think about him or her and what they go through or are going through? You see them everyday, and yet you give no time to how they think or what they feel. You might just say, “Hi, how are you?” They reply back to you, “Fine, thank you.” You hear this reply all the time because they really don’t expect you to notice, care or even listen to how they really are. Our politeness and courtesy, many times, become a futility of meaningless words. Just being friendly, that’s all that’s required of us right?

Now let’s go back to them. You see them everyday and do you really want to know how they are feeling or what they are going through? Agape says, “Yes, I really, seriously do.” Agape says, “I’m going to take the time to find out (if they want to share with me) the good, bad and the ugly of their lives.” They might need you right now. They might just need someone who sincerely cares about them and their circumstances. They might even need something you have that you could possibly give them. It doesn’t have to be money. So don’t even let that be your first thought.

You see them everyday and you just go through the process of acknowledging them and share in your return of verbal niceties. “Yeah, I see you. So there.” Then we allow them to go on their way and we get back to doing what we were doing. When you’re really focused on what is going on in your life at the time, you don’t want to take time for others–now do you? When you’re in a time crunch, now is not the time to show agape. Or is it? Maybe it does show agape when you’re in a self absorbed moment and you’re willing to show the other person the agape of Jesus.

You see them everyday and you know we live in a complicated and messed up world. People travel through life storms as well as emotional or physical earthquakes of catastrophic proportions. Proportions, of which, we are unaware. They need our agape! They need it right at a time when they wish they could find an emergency red handle on a wall somewhere that says, “pull if you need someone who cares!”

Yes, you see them everyday but they look and act just like you and me. You don’t know what is churning on the inside of them unless agape seeks out the bad and replaces it with good. Agape says, “I’m busy, but I do have time for you.” Agape says, “I care when no one else cares.”

Agape says, “Come unto me, all you busy people who are tired of hiding your problems and acting like nothing is wrong, and I will give you relief and rest.” – Jesus Christ.

Agape should be on the endangered species list. It is so very difficult to find when you need it.

That’s what I think about it.

DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo9

Ten Percent

imagesThis is a number everybody should know about in Christendom. We should know what it applies to. If you’ve been to church at least four times in your life, YOU should know what it applies to. And, if you have been one who has had his religious muscle trained from birth till now, you certainly have been one who understands the rigors and the expectations of “ten percent.”

Maybe you’re one of those that have been drilled Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, that this number is the least and minimum expectation of servitude and loyalty. You might be one of those that quit going to church because you heard this number so much and there was no way under heaven that you were able to meet the demands so firmly placed on your shoulders. In fact, you may have even come close to fearing that if you didn’t meet those expectations, it might come to the point that the church would put a lien on your property.

You could be one of those who are able to meet this understood agreement with the church, and as such, you probably feel guilty if you don’t meet this requirement. In fact, you actually may even feel a sense of relief when you are able to satisfy this goal and fulfill the “obligation.” You might even breathe a long sigh as those who collect it walk by you. Yes, you most likely sit there—relieved that you’ve done your part (as if it were April 15, and you can go to sleep knowing the IRS is not coming after you.)

What if this number were the only number we lived by? What if it were the only requirement demanded of us? What if it was the numerical standard we were expected to satisfy all the time? Picture this:

You get married and you only have to take care of ten percent of your wife’s needs. She wants to buy furniture; you only have to give her ten percent of what it costs. He wants the house cleaned; you only clean ten percent of the house. The infant children need formula or milk, so you go to the store and buy ten percent of what they need. This same scenario could be used over and over in many different situations.

So, where does agape fit into any of this? Does agape have anything to do with ten percent? If we are only required in life to fulfill obligation and demand, then we can be justified in saying, “I did what was required of me.” Then, you reverently thank God for the day and go to sleep knowing you did what was asked of you. However, if agape takes the lead instead of rigidity and standard, how much better will life be for you and those around you? How much better will it be if each of us do more than ten percent.

I posed this question to several people recently, “If you were not required to meet the ten percent standard, how much would you contribute?” When agape is the center focus of your life, you do things differently. You do things out of a spirit of help and hope. When standards are what you live by, life becomes cold and calculated.

That’s what I think about it.

DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo8

Mary Magdalene; She Understood It!

tombMary Magdalene was the grateful woman who knew what agape love was. She had no choice. It overwhelmed her from the beginning of her walk with God. It absolutely did a major overhaul in her life. She went from turmoil to total peace. She understood what Jesus taught about agape. She found it to be a sweet solace to her spirit.

Mary was targeted early on in Jesus’ ministry. She was a prostitute, a woman of the street, a lady of ill repute. She was a member of the world’s oldest profession. She had no self-esteem. She had no respect from the community. She was just rubbish in the eyes of the religious world.

However, Jesus recognized that she had a problem. It was a huge problem. It wasn’t that she was intent on continuing her business out of greed and lust. It wasn’t that she felt this was the only thing she knew to do in life. No, it was because she was the carrier of seven demons inside of her. She was being controlled by the adversary. Jesus recognized this by His agape for her.

He didn’t need to go to some ministerial conference on how to win the un-churched and make the sinner feel comfortable. He didn’t need to evaluate the problems of evangelism and how to attract more people to Him. He didn’t try to figure out ways to stomp out prostitution in the city. No, He just agaped her. He knew she needed God; plain and simple.

When will we, as the church and church leaders, comprehend that it’s not about solutions and programs? It’s simply what Jesus said, “Agape people.” See, people want agape. People need agape. Agape is what altered Mary Magdalene’s life.

Jesus agaped Mary and cast the seven demons out of her life. She felt the agape and returned it to her Master. It changed the way she worshiped Jesus. Again, she didn’t have to have a worship leader telling her how to love and worship the Savior. She agaped Him with reckless abandonment of image and feelings. She wept over his feet and her tears washed the dust off. She dried them with her hair. That is agape.

She was the first at the tomb early before daylight came. Her actions show she understood it. She got it. She knew what agape was, and she lived it. She was moved with compassion toward her Savior. She knew her Lover’s voice. She knew the look in His eyes. She felt and knew His agape.

Jesus showed agape and she realized it was the ingredient that was missing in her life. It was the essential that would change her world; the very world as she (and everyone else) knew it.

Mary went from being a prostitute to being the first to see Jesus after the resurrection. How in the world could that happen to anyone, especially her? It’s called agape. Jesus wants His people to understand it, enjoy it and show others what it is. Like Mary, it will change you too. It will, in fact, change all of us.

That’s what I think about it.


DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo7

Was It Over? Absolutely Not! It Was Just Beginning!

1421-ark_covenantThe cross is iconic to most people as a symbol of our freedom from sin. Interestingly enough, many men (before Jesus) also died on a cross. Somehow we might need to remember that Jesus was the only one who came out of his own tomb without anyone calling Him out. Maybe the tomb should be the icon. It is the symbol of life. It is the symbol of victory. However, the cross was the instrument on which His blood had to be shed.

Early Friday morning, Jesus realized that He would be suffering more pain than ever. Not only did he endure physical pain, but he suffered spiritual pain as well. He was taking every nasty sin and detriment of health on his body. Imagine what it would look like for a man to have every disease known to mankind on his body. Imagine seeing a man who had placed upon Him the sins of every person that had been alive and those to come. Isaiah the prophet said no one could look at Him. He was too hideous.

Now, what about all the blood that was shed in order for us to have life? Blood shed for us that would extend for eternity after we leave this time on earth? He lost a lot of blood at the beating of His back. More blood loss came when they put the thorny crown on His head. Even more when the nails were drive into His hands and feet. However, the ultimate insult came when the soldier pierced His broken and battered side.

Then it was over. But what about the blood?

They took His body down off the cross, the method of state execution. They took the body of the One who had done nothing but was betrayed, bruised, beaten and bludgeoned. And then He was gone. It seemed to be over.

In the book of Revelation, there is a passage where the Bible says that there was silence for about 30 minutes. Why? What would there be in Heaven that would stop all glorious praise and worship to God? What event would have occurred that would demand that all keep silent? I’m not so sure it was as much a demand as it was that everyone was speechlessly in awe.

I can’t prove this because we just don’t know. But could it have been the time when the victorious Savior, the One who took the keys of death, hell and the grave away from His adversary, the Lamb that was slain before the earth was ever created, the King of kings and Lord of lords entered the gates of heaven carrying a bowl with Him? And what was in that bowl?

As He slowly walked down the streets headed toward the throne room of heaven, I believe heaven got brilliantly quiet. Seeing the One who had laid down His glory to go to earth had now returned with His sacrifice of blood. Then He reached the throne room and began to satisfy the demands of His father as He poured His own blood over the Mercy seat of the altar. That’s where the blood went. Hallelujah!

Silence!

Now? Eternal rejoicing.

The party wasn’t over. It was just beginning, and it will never end.

That’s what I think about it.

DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo6

Today Is Your Day

jesusweptHave you ever awakened in the morning and felt that there was something bad going to happen? You ever have the gut feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out quite like you’d hope?

Many centuries ago, Jesus, who lived His life by faith in God, which included being led by the Holy Spirit, woke up on this very day, Thursday, with a feeling such as this. Even though He knew it was coming, today he knew the time was here. He thought, “Tonight, I will be with my men for the last time before my death. Tonight, I will be alone without anyone to help me. Tonight, one of my men will turn me over to the authorities.”

However, the great thing about all this is that, somehow, I believe a future flash of names began racing through His mind of all the names that would be affected by His action. I can’t help to think that on this day, years ago, the name Timothy Whitworth was on the mind of Jesus. You must be excited with me to know that on this same day, years ago, in the mind of Jesus, you were thought of too.

Today is your day! Today is my day.

He even spoke the words early that “Greater agape has no man than to lay down his life for a friend.” That’s true agape. He was willing to think of me, to think of you all and become our substitute for crimes that He did not commit.

So all through this day, He was thinking about us. Thinking about what was to transpire prior to tomorrow when He knew there was going to be great pain; great suffering.

However, in all this, He loved us still and wouldn’t think a second thought about His actions. His agape gave Him peace and contentment. I’ve learned that about agape.

His agape is so peaceful and easy. Agape won’t let you be selfish or demand expectations from others. It is serving to others. It will cause you to do things that you never thought you’d do. It will motivate you to say things you never dreamed you would say. You will marvel at the overwhelming explosiveness in your spirit toward others.

This is what Jesus was feeling on that Thursday about us. About you. About me.

Today is our day.

That’s what I think about it.

DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo5

He Doesn’t Care For Plastic Surgery

first_surgery_1Modern medicine is simply amazing. They can almost do anything with surgery and creativity. You can be remade, refurbished, re-fixed, remolded or re-anything for that matter. There have been those who have had catastrophic accidents and the surgeons were able to correct it to almost its original state.

Men and women who have been injured on a battlefield have required extensive skin and bone surgery and our wonderful doctors have been able to bring some semblance of hope and joy to these people because of their skills.

Dr. Jonathan Dutton came into my life years ago when I was required to have a tumor examined behind my left eye. Dr. Dutton, an ocular-plastic surgeon at Duke University shared with me, pre-surgery, that he would leave a line on my eyebrow that would give the appearance of an expression line. This was to keep from having a major scar. He was true to his word. More years later, Dr. Dutton shared with me his involvement in introducing and utilizing Botox to the market of the common public for cosmetic purposes.

I have had difficulties and situations in my life that have left scars, rips and tears in my emotional and spiritual appearance that needed some major work so that others would perceive me as having it all together and in total and complete health in both areas. However, as usual in plastic surgery, I knew many people could see through that and knew that I had an artificial makeover. The makeover was more embarrassing than the actual disfigurement. It made me look proud and vain.

However, God showed me that agape went deeper than my scars, rips and tears. In fact, He didn’t like the fact that I was trying to take care of something that I had no education or skill in. He didn’t like that I was trying to do self-surgery and internal spiritual repair. His agape to me revealed what my lover knew about me all along. See, in spite of my emotional and spiritual disfigurement, He agaped me for who I was. He agaped me for me. He knew I had been afflicted, storm battered and un-pitied. He told me He didn’t care for plastic surgery. For He showed me scars of agape on His body. I smiled when He said, “Look, see these deep scars on my forehead?” He told me of the crown of thorns. “And look,” He said, “see these scars on my back?” I turned my face in horror. But when He took my hand and grasped them with both of His, I wept as I felt two very deep scars; one on top of my hand from His hand and one underneath my hand from His hand.

He told me that His agape for me would take care of me above and beneath. His scars were proof of that agape.

I’m so glad that that He doesn’t like plastic surgery. However, I realized that my scars don’t matter anymore. His scars are all that matter now. For when I looked again at mine, they were gone, and I looked at Him again and saw them on Him where mine once were on me.

That’s what I think about it.

DTW-www.exaltationchurch.comeclogo4