Sunday Sheep Ponderings- February 19,2017

Pondering today on purity.
I would bet that for most of you that read the word “purity”, you immediately thought of a purity from some kind of sin or unclean living. I guess that immediate assumption is at the heart of my pondering.
I would venture to say that most people know nothing of PURE GRACE and sadly, this is more true of the Christian community than others. Now before you get offended, let me finish my thoughts. Remember, I am speaking mostly of myself.
First, let’s define GRACE so we all have a starting point. GRACE is defined as “the FREELY GIVEN, UNMERITED favor and love of God”. 
Let’s take a visual journey. Picture a tall glass of PURE clean water. I mean it has been purified from every contaminate, chemical and trace of dirt. Now, drop just one piece of dirt into it. It immediately becomes impure, cloudy, and a completely different material that is of lesser quality and value.
So it goes with PURE GRACE. Grace is freely given and unmerited. It is free of all requirements, rules and stipulations. Now, add just one condition to it. It immediately becomes impure, contaminated and a completely different idea that is of lesser quality and value.
When Jesus entered into our physical realm as a human, He came as PURE GRACE but the people did not understand Him. They, especially the religious leaders, were always trying to get Him to focus on sin or unclean living, on rules, on “rights” and “wrongs”. They were so accustomed to lists of “do’s” and “dont’s”, obsessed with keeping the law, and measuring the worth of a person by their performance. This idea or concept of FREELY GIVEN, not earned, unconditional acceptance and love was so foreign to them. It threatened the power and status of the religious leaders. If you removed their moral and spiritual superiority over their subjects, what would they have left to define their worth? What would be their purpose? What would set them apart from the masses?And so PURE GRACE became contaminated one little drop of “ifs” at a time. Yes, God loves you “if”….
So the choice for you and for me today is …are we going to choose PURE GRACE for ALL people, in ALL conditions, at ALL times? Or, are we going to settle for something of lesser quality and value that is no longer even grace at all? 
Let’s unmask the “ifs” for the lies that they are. 
Let’s remove the “conditions” from unconditional love. 
Let’s filter out all rules and performance from acceptance. 
Let’s drink in the PURE GRACE, the PURE LOVE, the PURE ACCEPTANCE that Jesus poured out and then let’s shower the world with it! 
Let’s never add an “if”, a theology, a requirement on something that was FREELY GIVEN! 
Let’s shout PURE GRACE from the mountaintops so that the world will know the love God has for them.
Let’s love well my friends.
Happy Sunday!
John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – February 12,2017 

Pondering today on love ❤️.
I know of a man who had a near death experience (pronounced dead) about 50 years ago. His account of what happened to him is …well, seriously thought provoking. As he came face to face with the Lord, he was asked one question. “Did you learn to love ❤️? This man was an evangelist and a preacher yet he was asked “Did you learn to love ❤️?”
Have YOU learned to love ❤️? Now, I know you love your spouse, your kids, your family and friends…that’s easy. (Matt 5:46) I spent most of my spiritual journey…”loveless”. Oh, I served God, taught Bible Studies, only listened to Christian music, only watched “Godly” shows, etc. I appeared to be a follower of Christ, a Christian but the truth is, I was more like the Pharisees who loved religion rather than people. I loved my people but was extremely judgmental of those who were not like me. I had a spiritual maturity (arrogance) that was admired in my circles but was far from what Jesus displayed. I was more concerned with “teaching” you the right way to believe than I was with hearing your heart. Thank God for grace and for His gentle patience. 
I wanted to “love others as I loved myself”. 
I wanted to feel that of “faith, hope and love…that the greatest of these is love”.
I wanted “love” to pour out of me, to define me, to genuinely be what I felt…but it wasn’t. The reality was that “condemnation” poured out of me, “being right” defined me, and superior was what I genuinely felt.
Today…I love ❤️. I’m not perfect but my heart is soft, my compassion and kindness are genuine and judgement has almost completely disappeared from my thoughts. What did “I” do to get this way? Nothing. It was ALL Him. He knew the desire of my heart was to be like Him and He did not give up on me. He exposed (and still is) religious lies I had bought in to and He called forth the “real” me that was created in His image. 
It is a journey my friends. A journey of erasing everything the world has painted all over you and finally seeing the real you as you were created. It’s not a journey of “becoming” but a journey of “returning” to what has always been true. A journey that we are ALL on, so be patient with yourself and others. 
So what about the man who died? He came back to his body, lived a long life defined by love ❤️, and died on Valentine’s Day 2014. 
Happy Valentines Day my friends! And may we all live a life like Jesus…a life defined by LOVE ❤️❤️❤️! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings- February 5,2017

Pondering today on Victory! Ok, yes, this pondering may have been inspired by my Atlanta Falcons and their inevitable Victory tonight in the Super Bowl! But, my pondering is about Jesus and His victory over sin and death! 
If you have been reading these Ponderings for a while, you know that I grew up Baptist, then Pentecostal, then non-denominational mega church. At each stage of my journey, I proclaimed Jesus to be “Victorious” but the reality of my theology was that He was partially victorious but partially a “loser”. I know that sounds a little harsh but when you cut through all the flowery words, glorious anthems and emotional worship….I was left with questions? 
God, if you are so great, why will ALL People not know it?
God, if you are perfect love, why will ALL people not feel it?
God, if you conquered death, why will ALL people not live? 
God, if you are light, why do you not remove ALL darkness?
God, if you are the victorious King of Kings, how do you not win ALL battles?
For 45 of my 50 years on this journey so far…I believed a theology that praised a “win some/ lose some” God. The truth is, most western Christians believe this. Now, I know for some of you that are so entrenched in your theology (I was one of the most entrenched 🙋🏼), scriptures are popping into your head to support your theology. For goodness sake, I was in a “scripture memory” class! Here’s the thing, we ADD a lot of things to scripture that aren’t there. I’ll just give a couple of examples that the Holy Spirit enlightened for me. The word “saved”….doesn’t mean saved from hell”. The word “perish”…doesn’t mean “eternal torment”. The word “fire”…is a purifying word, not a destructive word. We could go on and on for centuries debating theology, (oh wait, we have) but at the end of the day, it comes down to this …DO YOU BELIVE GOD IS VICTORIOUS? DO YOU BELIEVE GOD IS A LOSER? DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS A LITTLE OF BOTH? 
Interesting questions right? Are you brave enough to set your theology aside and really ponder them? 
I am not here to tell you how or what to believe. We have enough people in the world trying to do that! I’m here to share my journey and to challenge you to ask the hard questions…you won’t be disappointed in the answers! The more you peel away the layers of man’s teachings and get through the thin, crumbly layers of religion to the heart of God…the more in awe you will be! 
I believe God is ALL LOVING! 
I believe God is ALL POWERFUL! 
I believe God always WINS! 
I believe that LOVE NEVER FAILS! 
I believe that we don’t see the whole story when we look through mere earthly eyes. 
I believe that EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, our Father. 
I believe every human spirit will one day look into the eyes of pure love and ALL the hurt, stinkin thinkin, indoctrination, anger, abuse, woundedness, cultural teachings, torment and hate will be burned up until only the pure creation remains. A pure creation captivated and in love with its perfect creator! I believe in VICTORY! Jesus never “converted” anyone, He loved them and called them friends. 
Now In the words of our Atlanta Falcons…”In brotherhood we trust, in brotherhood we fight, in brotherhood we RISE! 
Jesus said, “I came to seek and save the lost” (that’s ALL of us). Luke 19:10.
Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw ALL men to myself”. John 12:31-32. 
Jesus said “I did not come to judge the world but to SAVE it!” 
“The Shepherd goes in search of the one lost sheep and does not return UNTIL he finds it and puts it on his shoulders and takes it home.” Luke 15:1-2