Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Love is the most Excellent Way!!

U2 in concert!

This is my first blog on this, my own website!! I have to admit, it's pretty cool! On here, you'll find my thoughts/rants about whatever is on my heart. 

For starters, I just wanted to remind everyone about a basic concept:

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

I've been a Christian now for pretty much my entire life. I first gave my heart to Jesus when I was four, and I was water baptized when I was seven. Those were both my own decisions. Throughout my journey I've had many experiences, both good and,well, not so good. One church I used to attend had the pastor preaching essentially the same sermon every Sunday. It was, more or less, "Every last one of you, get down to the altar right now and REPENT!!" Absolutely no love, mercy, or grace.

Another story I have is that of a man who was once in my life, but is no longer. He was so strict that we were not allowed to say things like "gosh," "darn," or "heck." This man also tried to stifle my own spiritual growth. He would go with my mom to these revival services every weekend. I was never allowed to come along, even though I asked repeatedly if I could. Any question I had was met with a stern rebuke or just condescending crap. 

In college, there was another guy (we'll call him Lou) who claimed to be this sold out Christian. Trouble was, he offered next to no encouragement to me. Instead, he watched me (and others) like a hawk, just waiting for the moment I messed up, where he could then pounce. One time, he said to me,

"Tyler, the Lord told me to tell you that you take whatever I tell you and say, 'that's just Lou, so I don't need to listen.' But God told me that you need to realize it's not just me, and that if you don't listen, you won't fulfill the destiny God has for you."

Not kidding. 

I felt worthless when I heard that. That and other things led me to years of thinking, "If I just keep working hard enough and overcome this stuff on my own, then God will love me." Yep. That's how I felt. 

My point in sharing this is not to throw these people under a bus. I've forgiven them. I'm not saying they're not genuine believers. I don't know their hearts. Only God does. I sincerely pray that they and others like them truly come to know the love of Jesus intimately if they haven't already. But, honestly, these are just a couple examples of the scars that were left on my heart from people who didn't love.  Praise the Name of Jesus, He's healed me, much of which has come from growth and maturity in my own walk. I've come to realize that there truly is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Seriously, folks, I just don't understand why, if we claim to know and love Him, why we have to treat others this way!

Let me tell you another story. There is a guy named Chuck (yes, this is his real name), who sat me down one night at IHOP. As we wolfed down our pancakes, he said to me this,

"Tyler, God told me to tell you that He is not mad at you. You think He is, but He isn't." 

My life hasn't been the same since. I have grown by leaps and bounds in the Lord! It's like I was walking up a mountain, and I came to a point on the trail where I could move no further. This fortress was in my way. That fortress was my doubt of God's love. That night, that fortress vanished! POOF!!! GONE!! If I were to look back on the trail, I wouldn't even be able to see the spot where the fortress once was. I became free. 

I want to make this clear: I've had many friends, and still do, who have been awesome to me. My parents are fantastic, and I'm super blessed, and I've been that way for a long time now. I'm so thankful to know God loves me. It's because of those people in my life who have shown His love to me. It's not difficult. Just reach out! Even the littlest thing can change someone's life forever. I want to hear about God's love shown through us as the Body. That's what we're called to do! 

Okay, when I first started writing this, I did not intend to go this deep. But, I guess God had other plans! Yes, that pic of U2 playing live was taken by me!! God bless you all!!