Today I’m the guest writer over at ilovedevotionals.com where I share some thoughts on life, love and patience.
Check it out here ›› LOVE IS SLOW
I wrote this back in February during my stay in Kansas City at the International House of Prayer. I had an amazing time and Jesus was speaking loud and clear to me. This article came out of one of those hang out times with this Man!
Jesus and I hung out today and He said some things. He said,
“Psst! Psst! I’ve got a couple secrets of the Kingdom I want to share with you. Could you share them with others?”
“Yes, Jesus, tell me your secrets and I’ll pass them on!”
So, people of the Kingdom, I think the King of the Kingdom has something to tell you. Something pretty simple, yet really profound.
Picture Jesus at the creation of the world. Picture Jesus in His life on earth. Picture Jesus on the Throne in Heaven right now.
Got a picture? See Him?
Okay, now Jesus wants you to know that when He lived and walked on earth, He looked people in the eye. He made eye contact with the human race. He made eye contact with every living person He interacted with.
Jesus did not look away. Whether they spit at Him in the face, or came running up to Him and affectionately poured their oil of love on Him, or whether they covered their face and cowered in the corner, He looked at them in the eye, and He kept looking. He did not look away.
The Great Eyes of Heaven looked us in the eye — and He still does.
And He still wants to.
As God’s image-bearers on earth, Jesus wants us to look people in the eye. It’s not even that this is a command that He has to force us to do. We have His heart in us. We want to. We enjoy doing it. It is our greatest delight to lock eyes with people. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us, so we can’t help but look people in the eye.
Jesus wants to look at people on earth, through your eyes. Through you.
How else will people know that Jesus wants to make eye contact with them unless you first show them this first by you personally making eye contact with them?
Look at people in the eye. They are beautiful. You’ll be blessed. You’ll see Jesus’ face. And people who see Jesus, shine. It’s so worth it.
Okay, that was the first secret Jesus kept talking to me about today.
Jesus smiled. Jesus smiles. He’s smiling in Heaven. And He still wants to smile on earth.
You are a little Christ on earth. You become like Christ every time you smile at someone. Jesus wants to smile at someone through you. Through your smile. Whether you have perfect teeth or not. Whether your smile is crooked and lopsided or not. Even if it wrinkles up your face and you think you look dorky.
Jesus loves to smile and He loves smiling through you.
You re-present the ways and hobbies of Christ on earth. And one of His favourite hobbies is smiling! He loves doing it! A lot. It’s a top priority of His.
Jesus is asking you right now,
“I want to smile at people. Would you smile at people for Me?”
His request is full of affection and holds no accusation or condemnation toward you. If you looked up at Him right now as He requests this of you, you’d find Him smiling back at you.
In the standard of the world, Jesus didn’t even have the ‘perfect’ smile. His teeth were yellowed and a little crooked. He had a few scars and a few wrinkles. Yet, His smile was and still is the most beautiful thing the world has ever seen. It has power to transform nations, transform families and transform every person that experiences it.
Jesus’ smile is contagious and wonderful. Simply perfect in the eyes of Heaven.
So, Jesus is looking at you right now in the eye, smiling at you, and asking again,
“Will you smile at people for Me?”
In the Heavenly Kingdom in eternity, everyone will look at each other in the eye. Don’t be weird on earth and avoid each other.
If someone smiles at you, smile back. Don’t be weird.
We Christians can be so weird. Someone looks at us in the eye, and we are so prone to instantly look away. We are so prone not to smile back.
I dare you not to look away. I dare you to keep the eye contact. You may just experience the presence of Jesus. You may just see His face!
I dare you, even, to go a step further. Flash someone a great big smile. It’s really fun!
I guess I could sum this up by saying that Jesus wants us to know that the Kingdom of Heaven is smiles and eye contact.
So, I dare ya!
[Top Photo: Alison Lam, 2007, Uganda]
I’m super stoked to introduce my friend, Tyler Cox, to all of you! Tyler and his lovely wife, Heather, co-lead the church plant, Legacy Life Centre, that I am a part of. I’ve been bugging him to write for me for a while now because he has such depth of wisdom and humility (a great combo) and, most of all, he loves people well. I think you’ll see what I mean as he shares his heart on the topic of relationships here…
I think if you were to ask most people what the most important thing in life is, the thing at the end of life they would want to have experienced, their answer would have a lot to do with their relationships. Most people, when they breathe their last breath would wish to be surrounded by their closest family; they would want to laugh and cry and share a few more moments of intimacy before they leave.
If you think about the most significant things in your life, they are more than likely attached to your relationships. This is what we were created for, every one of us: close, intimate relationships, full of unconditional love. When we don’t have these relationships, things can go really wrong. We can miss God’s purpose for our life.
Our purpose always runs through a person, or better, through a people. God has a home for every one of us, a place where our roots go deep and where we grow big, strong and healthy. These are the places where we find our destiny. If it is through relationship, both with God and others, that we find and fulfill our destiny, then in a lot of ways we need to redefine the way we think about relationships. The people we are close with aren’t a means to an end or a ticket to success; they aren’t just there for a season and then gone for the next. They are the people God wants us to do life with, the people we are called to. Psalm 92:12-14 says,
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green.”
Being planted means we are established as part of a local church. It means we are steadfast, faithful and immovable. God loves when our roots grow deep because we stay fresh, we don’t lose our vigour and we always produce fruit for His kingdom.
Think about it.
Have you ever seen a tree just pick up and move, dragging its roots along with it? It doesn’t happen because the tree would die if it uprooted itself.
In many ways, when we are constantly on the move, hopping from church to church or refusing to settle down, we stop producing fruit. We can grow tired and disillusioned and, at worst, we become a poor representation of our King and His kingdom.
The beautiful thing is God is always wooing us to become a part of something more than ourselves; He will always give you an opportunity to partake in the sweetness of fellowship. (Psalm 55:14)
Here are some good examples of what I am talking about:
Joshua was strong because he refused to leave Moses. He found his destiny because he submitted his heart to the mission of his spiritual father.
Ruth became Jesus’ ancestral grandmother because she found a home with Naomi.
Elisha was used as a powerful vessel for God’s kingdom because he stuck by Elijah, even when Elijah told him to beat it!
Jesus was at home in his earthly father’s house, working as a carpenter until the age of 30, and we all know what happened after.
Paul and Timothy, David and Jonathan, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Bible is full of the kind of relationships that are grounded in faithfulness and steadfastness.
God Himself is Father, Son and Holy Spirit in complete undisrupted unity for all time. Unified relationship is the model of heaven. We always pray for heaven to come to earth; I don’t think it has to look very complicated. It looks like people who love each other, who stick by each other through thick and thin and who pull the Kingdom of Heaven to earth together. We can do good things alone — we can do great things together.
Perhaps the reason the entire world has not yet seen the full power of the kingdom of God is because His sons and daughters are not acting like sons and daughters.
Our roots are shallow because we skip to one place and hop to the next, trying to catch the next ‘wave of the spirit’ or the next great move of God. Sometimes we act like Holy Spirit chasers instead of recognizing the gift of God and the power at hand right in front of us.
We lack the intimacy (into-me-see) sons and daughters know. Intimacy heals us and when we don’t have it we can never truly be made whole. We are hurt in relationship, but when we are in the right ones, we are restored and made whole.
I think the world is waiting for a generation of Ruth’s who will rise up and say to each other,
“Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay.”
If there is one thing the people of the kingdom of God need to manifest now more than ever it is a love for each other so deep the world can’t help but take notice. The world is starved for authentic, pure love; for a long time, kingdom people have been starving for the same thing. God is putting an end to independent ways of living and thinking. And that’s really good news for us.
[Featured Photo: Creative Commons, WackyBadger]
My name is Tyler Cox. My wife Heather and I, along with a bunch of other awesome people, started a church in Huntsville, Ontario in October 2012. We live in Huntsville with our 6-month old son. Our heart is to see the earth look like heaven and to see His kingdom come through fathers, mothers, sons and daughters walking together in oneness. (Facebook, Twitter)
Tucked away in a little corner of Northern Ontario is a God-loving community of young adults with huge hearts and huge vision. One of the leaders is my friend, Peter Zantingh, who I’m stoked to have as a guest writer on the blog today. He’s radical in his love for God yet down to earth; he faithfully lives out the message that he’ll be sharing with us here. You’ll be challenged personally to evaluate how you live your life and how you approach your whole concept of ‘ministry and missions’. I know I have been…
It was four years ago that I heard a message from the well-known Christian artist Jason Upton. I have heard many messages and rarely do I remember who, where, and even what was said. Yet, I took a nugget from Upton that day and have not forgotten this simple yet significant statement,
“Just look at the people around you and love them. Ask yourself, ‘Who are the people God has given you?’”
Upton was speaking about community and relationship. He spoke about not having to look far to make a difference and to begin to be intentional about the relationships around us. The people around us are the ones with whom we regularly make contact with in our everyday lives. These people range from our close family, church family, work peers, cashiers, etc. These are exactly the ones that God has called us to. We can then seek to love, grow together and simply just ‘do life with’. It is in our local communities and spheres that we can begin to ask God who he has given to us.
Jason Upton spoke from the context of John 17. In this chapter we read about Jesus reciting his famous prayer. First, Jesus prays for his disciples. Then he prays for the ones that will believe. When we read the prayer closely we find what Upton and I believe to be a simple key to discipleship and modeling Jesus. In verse 6 it reads,
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept my word.”
God had specifically given Jesus his disciples. Jesus had just spent nearly 3 years pouring his life out and giving his heart intentionally to twelve men. Here in this culminating prayer, Jesus says in verse 4,
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
Jesus’ accomplishment came when he successfully loved and manifested Father God to the disciples God had given him. This prayer preceded the cross and the resurrection, so Jesus could not have been talking about accomplishing all that he was sent to do, but Jesus was speaking of his accomplishment in successfully raising his disciples.
In verse 18-20 we read that just as God sent Jesus into the world, Jesus now sends his disciples into the world. Jesus then prays for the ones that will believe in him through their words. Thus begins the discipleship cycle. Jesus reproduced in his disciples and then they were released to reproduce.
I believe God has called us to make disciples and he has specific people that he has given us just as he had given Jesus. Just look in your community. There are numerous people around you. I believe, maybe, just maybe, God has simply called us not to go anywhere without first loving those around us.
Jesus is the Messiah; he came to redeem the world, yet in his ministry he is not seen frantically running around trying to convert as many people as he possibly can while he is on earth. He is not seen jumping onto a camel’s back riding to China or Africa to go preach the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus is not seen sailing over to Rome to have a huge crusade in the coliseum. Jesus, for the most part, was a local man and stayed quite local.
When he is in Jerusalem it seems he doesn’t favour the large crowds. He is definitely not advertising to draw as many people as he can. He seems content just being with his disciples before a large crowd gathered and he gave the famous Sermon on the Mount. Afterward, he requests to be taken to the other side of the lake to escape and have a nap in a boat being tossed in a storm.
It seems to me that the most defined purpose to Jesus’ ministry was simply being with those God had given him. He was very intentional about pouring his life out and giving his heart to the ones that were to carry his ministry once He left. Jesus was investing in order to leave a legacy. Jesus knew that if he just passed the baton on, and his disciples would do the same, the gospel of the kingdom would reach every nation. God’s mission for Jesus did not die when he ascended, but it continued on in his disciples.
So, what we can take from this is that the very people we are in contact with everyday are the ones that we are called to. We need to focus our lives on loving those close to us, growing together and seeking to disciple those around us. When we ask God, he will give us disciples and people who we are called to ‘do life with’.
Personally, I have had the joy of leading some young kids to the Lord and later baptizing them. On the day I baptized them it felt as if I had begotten them through the gospel, just as Paul had written about Timothy. The day I baptized these kids I was completely filled with joy. At the same time it was sobering because I could not escape the new responsibility to raise these young kids up in the kingdom.
That is what I believe God is desiring for us, to have deep relationships with people we will spend our whole lives pouring into. That is the only way we can leave a legacy and a spiritual inheritance. It is not very hard to find someone in your local community who is ripe for harvest and discipleship. The problem is that we are not looking. We are waiting for the next spiritual high for ourselves. We are hoping for some amazing encounter with God. If we want an amazing encounter with God, we just need to encounter discipleship; it will cause you to live outside of yourself.
Let us follow Jesus’ model to reproduce and multiply. We don’t need to start with 12 as he did, but start with one, just one. Go for it. The Kingdom of God, summed up in one word, is ‘family’, and it is expressed in two words ‘fathers’ and ‘sons’.
My name is Peter Zantingh. I live in a house. I am 25 years young. I am a youth leader and a church plant leader with Legacy Life Centre. I am not lazy. I love discipleship, nations and the Father heart of God. You can find me on Twitter.
To the Guys: Right up front, I want you to know that I’m on your side as your ally; I’m writing this to give you an honest glimpse into the heart of a woman, believing it will encourage you forward in your relationships not only with women but with other men and children. Feel free to comment below or contact me if you want to write a guest article to share a guy’s perspective. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’ve had some experiences with guys the last few months. Many positive experiences and one very negative experience recently. It’s created quite the contrast for me and highlighted some key things about relating between the sexes, which I’d like to share with you.
My recent experiences have strengthened something I’ve discovered over the years. I’m especially aware now of the fact that one of the most powerful things about a man is [drumroll] …his kindness. Yes, I repeat, his kindness…
…towards other men (seriously, this is bigger than you think)
…and towards children and young people
Kindness is POWERFUL. It’s the weapon that real men of respect fight with.
Real men fight for kindness.
Kind words and acts of kindness are the setting for which the power of a man is shown off in brilliant clarity.
I have had such a positive experience over the past few months in a new community where I have felt honoured, respected, HEARD, acknowledged, embraced, cared for and valued by the men. Men, young and old, in this community have been KIND to me. It hasn’t made me think less of them as men. In fact, it has shown me how much more I need to respect and honour the men in my life. Men are awesome, and we women need you!
The kindness of these men has disarmed me, in the best of ways. It has clothed me with dignity, and empowered me forward into fresh vision for the future.
I don’t know if they realize (or all of you guys reading this) how powerful the kindness of a man really is.
Guys, do you realize just how powerful you are? Your words and your actions can completely transform a woman, a child, another man, a group, a community, a city, a nation, and a globe of nations. But how are you choosing to use your power? Are you transforming people for better, or for worse?
Your publicly-paraded “macho bravado” does not make you powerful, in the way that you probably wish it did. If anything, it highlights how un-powerful, in-secure and small you must feel inside that you think you must parade around and show off your supposed “strength and power” with neon signs that scream out “Notice me! Be impressed by me!” Women can see this. We can see the guys with the flashing neon signs above their heads looking for significance, and we can see the guys that don’t need anything flashy to show us who they really are.
Maybe you don’t realize that your kindness gives you the real power in the room. You will certainly garner the respect of the women, I’ll tell you that much.
I can’t speak for other guys or for young children, since I am neither, but I can’t emphasize enough how much a woman will respect, honour, stand up for and fight for a kind man, who treats women, men and children with respect, honour and dignity. We can trust a kind man. And whom we trust, we give our respect and allegiance to.
Just recently, I spent some time away from this encouraging community. Talk about relational culture shock! I’d gotten a little used to being treated kindly, so I was totally unprepared for what happened recently when I went away for a little bit.
And what I experienced from one guy was straight-up un-kindness (if there is such a word).
It caught me off guard just how much it hurt. It really hurt.
I consider myself a strong woman. I grew up with brothers. I’ve been a part of ministries that are made up of a majority of males, so I feel I can “hold my own.”
But I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of unkind jabs, public hurtful comments, and temper-flaring bursts of anger.
It felt like, where I was previously covered and protected and safe, I was now stripped down, exposed and vulnerable. I started to put walls up because I didn’t know when this guy would say something to humiliate me publicly. I also saw how he treated other guys, how he would put them down and treat them harshly, and how he could not take constructive feedback without getting defensive. It all just deflated me. I started to wince when I approached this guy, because I didn’t know if what I would say would incite his temper and cause him to be harsh with me. I’m talking about a GROWN MAN here. Maybe, I could understand it in a young boy who’s still learning the ropes, but a GROWN MAN?! I was shocked, but in truth, I was mostly just hurt.
There’s something that happens in the heart of a woman, when a man loses control of his tongue and his temper, and becomes verbally agitated towards her, and towards others. A certain trust gets violated and bruised.
I can attest to the truth of this Biblical proverb,
“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)
A man’s patience IS his power. A man’s self-control is his power proven through his restraint.
I learned a thing or two from my interaction with this guy. I learned that it is wise to exercise self-control and restrain my tongue from throwing verbal mud back. I don’t have to defend myself. God’s got my back. He’ll vindicate me and He’ll send helpers to back me up.
And that’s just what He did!
God, being the kind and powerful God that He is, sent me some bodyguards. He blessed me with other men in the room who immediately stood up for me, who came to my defense, and protected me. Covered me. Vindicated me. With their words and actions, they called the guy out on his disrespect of me.
These men showed me a kindness. They returned my dignity to me. I looked at these men and all I could think about was just how powerful they were. How much I respected them for their act of kindness. In walking in gentleness and kindness, they exposed just how un-powerful the other guy was.
These men showed me what God is like. We can learn a lot about what God is like through the men in our lives. And what is God really like? Well, it says repeatedly through Scripture,
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8)
So, in my situation, after being defaced, I got my face back. These men made me beautiful again. I definitely think this is something that God does. He makes all things beautiful. This, to me, is what Paul is describing in Ephesians 5:24-29 where a man’s kindness, his cherishing of the woman, makes her radiant and beautiful. She rises to the occasion. She becomes what the man says of her.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:25-29)
It appears that a man has a lot of power. Just as Christ has so much power over the Church, so a man has the same power over a woman. It appears that a man is so powerful that he is able to sanctify a woman; he is able to bring her into a state of splendor, through his nourishing and cherishing of her.
Wow, that’s power. So, guys, how are you using that power?
It seems that if a man degrades a woman, she will degrade herself and put on rags.
If a man celebrates and honours and lifts up a woman, she will put on beautiful garments and shine brilliantly.
I think we can safely say that Paul is trying to get the point across that the state of a woman says much about how the men in her life have treated her. What these men have said about her and to her.
The great thing is that no one loses in the game of honour! When a woman is celebrated and honoured by a man, she will doubly honour and lift him up. She will have utmost respect for him and give him all the power he wants in the world.
So, he wins.
And she wins.
Everyone gets EMPOWERED.
And all that simply from a little kindness.
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I am an interesting woman: I’m a combo deal of serious and silly, deep and dorky. East meets West. I’m a “plant-roots-at-home” and a“go-ye-into-all-the-world” woman. I’ve followed Jesus all around the world over the years and now He’s brought me back home to Canada. If my adult life has taught me anything, it’s to say “YES” to becoming as soft and childlike as possible in the hands of the Father so He is free to set all of His love upon me as His daughter.