Sunday, September 24, 2017

What is the One New Beginning That Truly Changes Everything, and I Mean Everything

If you lived in the path of Hurricane Irma, do you feel a little bit that you’re trying to pick up again where you left off?  Do you know what I mean?   For those of us in her path, when Hurricane Irma started coming our way, normal life sort of stopped.   School stopped.  Work stopped.   All sorts of new things started.  You fortified your home.   You stocked up on supplies.  You may even have left the area, taken a hurrication so to speak.

Now after the storm ended, hopefully after not too many days without power and too much damage to life and property, normal life kind of began again.   But it probably doesn’t feel exactly the same.  It can’t after something like that.   It’s normal life, yes. But it’s a new normal.  Life after Irma just looks (for example, who know when the fallen trees on our streets are going to go away) and it just feels a bit different than before.   

Life has lots of new beginnings like that, lots of new normals, including ones much bigger than the stress and strain of these last few weeks.   You graduate from school.  Or heck if you are a little kid, you start school.  That’s a big beginning right there.  You get married.  You have kids.   You start a new job.  You move to a new place, sometimes a new country. I could go on.  These new beginnings, they change you.   Your life becomes something different.  A new, sometimes a radically new normal begins.  

These new beginnings can be hard, but life has to have them, doesn’t it?  You can’t live what life is supposed to be without them.   Today, in the words that you’re about to hear, God tells you about the ultimate new beginning.  This new beginning doesn’t just change something.  It changes everything.    And if you don’t experience it, then you have missed in the deepest way possible what your life is supposed to be.

What is this new beginning?  How can you be sure that you don’t miss it?  In these words, God shows you the way.  Let’s listen and hear what God has to say. 

What is the ultimate new beginning, the new beginning that changes everything? Why, if you don’t experience it, do you miss what life is supposed to be?   God tells you here.  In this new beginning, God brings you back to the beginning.  God begins restoring you to who God intended you to be, God’s very child.   And how do you get there?   You don’t get there.  Only God can get you there.   Only God can do this in you.

You see.  New beginnings happen in every life.   But what John describes here blows away any other new beginning.    John compares it to being reborn.   John basically says. This new beginning can only be compared to the one that began you, your very birth.   And when John says that, he is only quoting Jesus, who said much the same thing.  But what does it mean to be reborn like that?     

Have you ever sensed that you’re missing something, that you’re intended for something bigger, grander than who you are right now?   Have you ever felt that something greater lives inside you but it’s always just a bit beyond your grasp?  If you’ve felt that, you’re right.

When I was growing up, I loved this book called Escape to Witch Mountain.   By the way, lots of other folks love it too. They’ve made it into a movie five times.  The last one came out in 2009.    Dwayne Johnson starred in it.     

In the book, these two orphans, Tony and Tia, discover they have these unusual gifts, but they don’t remember where they came from.  But Tia has this purse with a strange symbol on it.   This nun recognizes the symbol.  She tells Tia.  I received a letter with that same symbol years ago from a man in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  He was looking for children with unusual abilities.  In other words, he was looking for them.  So, with help from an old priest, and through many close calls, Tony and Tia discover who they are, refugees from a dying planet.   And they make a daring escape to their people’s hidden refuge, a place called Witch Mountain.   

I loved that book.  Why?  I wanted to be one of those kids.   But forget that book, look at the plot of every superhero movie.   It’s the same idea.   Person discovers hidden ability or secret destiny.  Why do human beings love stories like that?   It’s because they’re getting at something true.   As C.S. Lewis put it.   “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

When John talks about a new birth, that’s what he’s getting at.  In this new beginning, you don’t just get a new belief or a new spiritual practice.   You don’t even become something new.  You become what God intended you to be from the very beginning.   You become God’s very child.   And God isn’t talking some Hallmark card here.  God is saying in John’s words.  You become the very offspring of God.

C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, said it better than anyone:  

Jesus’ command Be ye perfect [Matt. 5:48] is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. Jesus is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. God said (in the Bible) that we were "gods" and he is going to make good His words. If we let Jesus - for we can prevent Him, if we choose - He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. God meant what he said.

Now that process just begins now, but that’s where it’s going.  As John puts it: Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.”  In other words, you can’t even imagine what’s coming.    Do you see how this new beginning blows any other away, how it changes everything?

So how do you get this?  How do you become the very offspring of God? How does that happen?  Well, you can’t make it happen.  You can only let it happen.   What do I mean?

Let’s go back to the image of being born.   How are babies ideally supposed to come into the world?   They come through an act of love, an act of committed communion between two people.    But that love only happens, when these two people let go, when they risk being truly vulnerable, when they open themselves, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually to this other person.   Now no human relationship gets that perfectly, but that’s the ideal.

God brings about this birth inside you in much the same way.  In Jesus, God has already let go of everything for you, already entered into ultimate vulnerability, even death itself.  And God did it out of love for you.   And as you let go, as you let go of your own fears, as you let go of your delusions of self-sufficiency, as you let go of your own feelings of guilt or unworthiness, you open yourself to God coming in, to God transforming you.  But you don’t even have to actually let that all that stuff go.  God will begin doing that in you, if only you ask. 

So, if it’s that easy, why don’t people do it?   Why don’t people just ask?  Well, maybe they came across people who said this very thing happened to them, that they were born again.   But their transformation didn’t look that inspiring.   A legendary San Francisco columnist, Herb Caen, said it well.   “The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are a bigger pain the second time around.”  

Caen said something kinda true.  It’s possible to not really let go, but act as if you have.  You join a church.  You obey all the right rules.  You believe all the right things.  You even memorize the right scriptures.   But inside, you haven’t let go.  So instead of becoming greater, you become smaller, more judgmental, more fearful, more uptight.  

And even if you let go, if you experience this new birth, you’ve still only begun the journey.  Yes, you’re a child of God, but you’re still growing into what that actually means.

In the Bible, God delivers the Israelite slaves from their Egyptian masters. God miraculously parts the waters of the Red Sea, and takes them through.   Now when they reach the other side, and their Egyptian masters get crushed in the waves behind, God has delivered them out of slavery.   But they’ll stay wander in the desert for forty years.  Why?  God might have delivered
them out of slavery in a moment, but it will take a life for God to get the slavery out of them. 

When God brings about this new beginning, it’s just that.  It’s a new beginning, the start of a journey that will a lifetime.  

The writer George McDonald put it this way: 

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what God is doing. God is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently God starts knocking the house about in a way the hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is God up to? The explanation is that God is building quite a different house from the one you thought of –throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but God is building a palace. [Why?]  God intends to come and live there Himself.

Do you want to start becoming the palace that God destined you to be?   Do you want to become the very offspring of God?   That journey can begin today.   All you need to do is ask.
And if you don’t want to do that today, if you still doubt that this thing could be real, that’s ok.    Keep coming back.   Keep testing the waters.   If this is real, then you are hearing the most life-changing news ever.  And if you open yourself to it, if you let it work in you, it will change you, maybe instantly or maybe you so gradually you won’t even realize it at first.

Sometimes you fall in love in a whirlwind, and in just a moment you know, this is the person for you.    But lots of times, someone enters your life, and only as you get to know them, does it happen.   And then you realize, this person has become more than a friend.   Somewhere along the way you fell into love.  And you will never be the same.

It happens the same way with God.  Some folks here can tell you a moment that it all changed.  Others can’t remember a moment, but they know that it happened nonetheless. 

As the writer Lewis put it.  If you’re on a train traveling from Paris to Berlin, some folks will be awake, when the train crosses the border.  Others will be asleep.   But what matters is not that you were asleep or awake when it happened.  What matters is you know. You are no longer in Paris.  You are now in Berlin.

Your life will have all sorts of new beginnings, new normals.   But no beginning will remake you like this one.   No beginning will be as big as your very birth, the beginning that began you.    If you want this beginning, this beginning that makes you into the very offspring of God, all you need to do is ask.   You may be coming here for the first time or you may have been coming here for years.   You may have grown up in church, but never gotten what it was actually all about.    Whatever the case, if this new beginning hasn’t yet happened for you, it can happen even today, even in these next moments.   All you need to do is ask.   

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What Is the One Truth that Gives You Life the Way Life Is Meant to Be?

For the last two weeks, I have become intimately familiar with one guy’s face.   Normally, I wouldn’t notice him at all.   He’s not very charismatic.   But beginning two weeks ago, I held onto this guy’s every word.   Why?   He’s Ed Rappaport.  And Ed Rappaport directs the work of the National Hurricane Center, and as someone who was living in the path of the monster storm, Hurricane Irma, that Center had a lot to say to me.   So, when those four times a day bulletins from the Center would come around, I’d turn on the news, eager to see this face.

Now, if anybody could make a hurricane undramatic, even boring, Ed Rappaport could.  When Ed talked about the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, you’d think he was talking about his grocery list.   Frankly, in some ways, that can be strangely reassuring.  But a moment came, when even Ed’s composure broke.
One of the newscasters mentioned to Ed folks he had spoken to in the middle Keys, who had decided to ride out the storm.   At first, Ed looked puzzled, as if this newscaster was talking about little green men or some other thing that could not exist.   Then he got it.   He realized that this newscaster was telling him that he knew of people who had not evacuated, who were sitting in their homes at the very point where this storm would make landfall.   Alarmed, Ed simply said.   This hurricane in that place is not a survivable event.    Those words chilled me.  I realized.  Ed was not giving an opinion.  He was as a scientist, stating a fact.  The combination of wind and storm surge in that place would destroy anyone in its path, no matter how experienced or tough they were.

In life, certain realities exist, and nothing you think about them will change the truth of their existence.   You don’t have to believe in gravity.  But your disbelief won’t stop gravity from killing you if you decide to leap off the top of that building they’re constructing in Young Circle.

Ed was saying much the same thing.   You don’t have to believe that Irma will kill you for Irma to kill you.   In life, certain facts exist, and whatever you think of them, will not change that reality.   And some of those facts, if you ignore their truth, won’t just inconvenience you, they’ll destroy you.    In the words you’re about to hear, God gives you one of those facts, one that if you ignore its truth, will take away your life in a deeper and more profound way than even Irma ever could.   What is that truth?   Here God shows you.   Let’s listen and hear what God has to say.

Some truths you can’t ignore.   If you do, not only won’t they go away, but if you ignore them or disbelieve them, they could kill you.    When the doctor tells you that you have blockages in your heart, she’s not giving you an opinion.    She is giving you a fact.  Nothing you think about that fact will change the reality that those blockages threaten your life.    In the same way, John is giving you a truth here, you can’t ignore.   John is telling you that in Jesus, God came to earth and died for you.   Why is that truth so crucial?   It’s because it’s truth goes deeper than any other truth that exists.   And when you ignore it, even if you live, at some deeper level than you realize, you will have missed what living is truly about.       

In life, people have a certain comfort with truths like a doctor’s diagnosis or when a hurricane expert tells you about storm surge.    Those truths you can see in an x-ray.  You can see their effects on the video reports on the news.   Yet even there, you have more and more people who are doubting even those truths.   And that is a scary thing.

But truth goes far deeper than simply those facts.   Life carries with it certain realities that if you ignore them will destroy your life in ways that go beyond anything a hurricane can do.   A quote from the filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille puts it well.   DeMille said: It’s impossible for us to break the law.  We can only break ourselves against the law.   Now DeMille wasn’t talking about jay-walking.   DeMille, who directed the movie classic, The Ten Commandments, was talking about law at a deeper level than that.   DeMille was saying. Certain deep realities exist, and you ignore them at your peril.   You can’t break them.  You can break yourself against them. 

Yet today, lots of folks resist what DeMille pointed out here.   And they have good reason too.  Too often, people have claimed something to be true like that when it wasn’t true like that at all.   They have even pulled in God to undergird their claim.    Susan B. Anthony, one of the leaders who help secure women the vote, said it well.   She said.  I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I know it always coincides with their own desires.    How often did Anthony hear people say as if they were declaring some objective truth that if women could vote, it would destroy the institution of marriage.   People, including Christians, have claimed as objective truth things that did not fit that description at all.    

But just because folks, including Christians, have misused these claims for truth doesn’t mean such truths don’t exist.   But if this truth does exist, what makes Jesus is God, a God who bled and died for you, a truth like that?    Why does John even call believers who discount it, not simply not Christian, but actually anti-Christs.   Isn’t that a bit much?

In John’s day, this idea of God becoming a human being didn’t play too well.  People didn’t think too much of the whole body thing.  They thought of bodies as unpleasant, nasty things, about as far from spiritual as you could get.   So, the idea of the creator of the universe becoming a body, a real, flesh and blood human being sounded not only ridiculous, but even disgusting.   Then the fact that this God not only became a human being, but actually suffered a humiliating death as a criminal, that just went beyond the pale. 

Yet even so, this message of a God who loved human beings, who came to give human beings life, even immortal life, lots of folks liked that.   So they said.  Let’s keep that part of the message.  Let’s even say the presence of God dwelled in Jesus.   But this whole Jesus is God thing; that has got to go.   And forget this God dying.  No, Jesus might have died.  But by that time, God had left the building so to speak. 

But this message John calls a lie.  Not only that, John has these people expelled.  He calls them anti-Christs.   Why can’t John tolerate a little diversity in the ranks?   Why does John see these people as so far from the truth that he even calls them liars?  I’m sure these folks would say that they were simply trying to get to the heart of the message.  John fights so hard against them because John has played the movie.  

Years ago, I heard an insight that I have never forgotten.  The psychologist Henry Cloud said that one thing successful people always do is they play the movie.   Cloud meant that when these people make a decision, they take time to play out the consequences.  They play the movie so to speak. 

So, let’s say, this person feels an attraction to someone at work.  They sense that this someone feel attracted to them to.   But rather than act on it, they play the movie.  They think. Let’s say I do some flirting, and this person flirts back.    And one thing leads to another, and we end up having an affair.   Then out of that affair, problems arise at work.  Maybe we lose our jobs.  Then, my marriage collapses.  Then my relationship with my kids gets wounded forever.  And I end up alone in an apartment, my life in shambles.   And once they’ve played that movie, this person doesn’t seem all that attractive any more.   Do you see how this works?

John is doing the same here.  He is playing out the movie. John realizes.  If God didn’t come to earth in Jesus, that not only changes everything; it destroys everything. 

What do I mean?   Well, why do Christians believe that God come to earth in Jesus?  Christians believe that God did that because nothing less than that could save human beings from themselves.  Nothing less than God becoming human, God even dying for you, could save you.   That’s how lost you had become, how disconnected from God.  

But if God didn’t really do that, then the human situation wasn’t that bad.   Instead, God didn’t come to rescue you.  God came to enable you to reach your highest potential, to even become a god yourself.  God doesn’t have to save you.  No, God came in Jesus to show you how you could save yourself.  Now, if you think about that, you can think that sounds kind of nice.  Those sorts of lies always do.

But here’s what happens.   First, this lie blinds you to the truth about yourself.  No one really wants to face their ugliness within.      And with this lie, you don’t have to.  You can live in denial about how deep the brokenness within you really is.   

But even so, you will have moments when that denial will break down, when the ugliness will pop out.  And when that happens, it can be terrifying. 

After all, when you start believing you can save yourself, how do you know that you’ve done it.   How do you know if your goodness is good enough, that your enlightenment is enlightened enough?   The answer is you don’t.   So, instead, you live with this underlying anxiety that maybe you haven’t met the grade, that you’re not good enough.  

How do you deal with that?   You look at someone you see as worse than you are.  Okay, you say, granted, I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not like that person.   I’m more enlightened than that.   You put yourself on a hierarchy, one that always put you above someone else.   And in that way, you ease your anxiety somewhat.   But still the anxiety is always there.   And this life, well, it becomes no life at all.   And this is the lie of religion, one that has led to all sorts of misery and pain. 

But John knows.  The message of Jesus as God breaks that lie.   It gives you the painful truth of who you really are.   It tells you.   Yes, you are as broken and messed up as, on your worst days, you fear you are.   You are really that lost.   And no matter what you do, you cannot save yourself.  But God has not left you there.  In Jesus God came to rescue you.   God came to bring you home.    And God loves you so deeply, so infinitely that in Jesus, God gave up everything to make this rescue happen.   God has saved you.  And what do you need to do?   All you need to do is to believe this beautiful truth is really true, that it actually happened right here on earth, in history, for you.  

And when you do, this truth comes to live within you.   It even starts restoring the divine image within you.    You begin to become more than you could ever have dreamed you could be.   And God becomes not only a fact you know, but a reality you experience.   And in the presence of that God, your judgments of others begin to fall away.  After all, you know that you’re no better than them.   And in the love of this God, the anxieties that bind you begin to break.  After all, you know that nothing, no mistake, no failing, not even death will take this love away.   And you start to live, even in your worst moments, a life that is deeper, richer, and more beautiful than ever before.   You know the truth, and this truth has set you free. 

If you’ve been caught in the lie, trying to gain approval from God, trying to be good enough, whatever that means, then leave that lie behind.   Let the truth embrace you.  Let the truth set you free.            

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Painful Truth That If You Don't See It will Lead you to Disaster

It’s a nice scene isn’t it?  Here you have something that is beautiful, good even.   It gets you places.   It nourishes the soil.   It even brings pleasure.  But this good thing can become a bad thing.  That beautiful river is the Natchez River in Beaumont, Texas. Over the last week, its waters have ravaged homes, businesses, and even taken away people’s water.   

When this good thing goes beyond its boundaries, awful things happen like this. 

Houston, a great American city gets brought to its knees.  People lose homes.   They lose their lives.   These waters that brought life, we have seen them bring such death and destruction.   And our hearts go out to the people of Houston, to all those folks in Texas and Louisiana dealing with this awful storm.  It’s stunning what happens when waters push beyond their boundaries like that.  

This tragic news from Houston, as it stirred me to prayer and to aid, also reminded me of an uncomfortable, even painful truth in my own life, one I have seen lived out tragically in the lives of others.   When people don’t see this truth, it brings awful things, even disaster and destruction.  

What is this painful truth?  In these words, God shows you.  Let’s listen and hear what God has to say.

In these few short sentences, God is saying something terribly important.   God is giving a warning that if you heed it will bless your life.  And more crucially, it will you away    It keeps you away from a life that will cripple your life.   What is God telling you?   God is saying.  Beware the danger of desire.   

But before you and I can understand that danger, we need to understand what beauty and blessing desires bring.  

God created you to have desires.   Why?  Desires bring you life.  Desires expand your horizons.  Desires open you to new experiences.   Desires give you all sorts of good things, from delicious meals to romance, from success in work to joyful pursuits at home.  

In fact, God cherishes desire.  God cherishes desire so much that God put it at the center of Communion, the Lord’s Supper.   Do you know what Jesus said to his disciples before he broke this bread, and shared this cup?   He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; (Luke 22:15).    Jesus didn’t just kind of desire it.   Jesus eagerly desired it.   Desire drove Jesus to the cross; desire for our salvation; desire for our freedom; desire for our healing.  

So if God loves desire so much, how do you explain these words in I John? 

“For all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches – comes not from the father but from the world.”

Here’s the problem.  When the Bible talks about desire, it talks about in two different ways, but the way this translation puts it, you don’t get that.   The old-fashioned King James got closer to the truth.  It says.  

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And that word lust gets closer to what God is telling us.   John intentionally uses a particular Greek word here; epithumia.   John could have just used, thumia.   That word means desire too.   But epithumia means a huge desire, an epic one so to speak.  In fact, that’s where we get the word epic from.  

Now epic desires can be good desires.  Jesus uses that word, epithumia, when he talks about desiring to eat the Passover with his disciples.    If you have an epic desire for God, that’s a good thing. 

So, what makes epic desire a bad thing here?   It’s because these epic desires will always derail your life.   Why?   They go beyond the boundaries of desire for which God created them.  Do you see how that connects to the awfulness of this week.   When those rivers and bayous stayed within their banks, they brought life and beauty to the world.   But when the rain drove them beyond those boundaries, omigosh, the destruction and death they brought instead. 

And what’s true of those waters in Texas, that’s true of certain desires.   For example, it’s fine to eat to live.   But if you live to eat, then your desire has become epic.  It has blown past the boundaries.  And it has taken over your life.  

That’s an example of an epic desire of the flesh.   And other things fall into this category.   Desire for sexual intimacy, desire for alcohol, even desire for leisure and the list could go on.   All of these desires, in their place, bring good things.   But when they go epic, when they go past the boundaries, they bring destruction, even death.  

But John isn’t finished talking about epic desires.  As bad as these desires of the flesh can be, he brings them up first because they are the least dangerous.   Even more dangerous is the epic desires of the eyes.   So what are these?  

It’s when you live your life for how you look, how you appear to others.   And this desire can lead you to plastic surgery or eating disorders.   But it goes beyond that.   Two years ago, the Federal Reserve did a study that showed almost half of Americans, couldn’t handle a $400.00 emergency.   Now some of those folks certainly have that problem due to serious financial hardship.  But in the most affluent nation in history, something more has to be going on.  Again and again, I see people spend money to keep up an appearance even when it risks financial disaster.   Maybe that’s why in another survey this past week, only one in ten Americans felt fully financially prepared for a natural disaster.  But this epic desire goes beyond finances. 

How many times do you get so caught up in appearances, how someone or something looks only to discover how that person or thing was far less than what they appeared to be?   Or how often have you lied or got defensive about something because you didn’t want to look bad, because you didn’t want to admit you were wrong?

And that leads to the worst epic desires of all, the pride of life.  
Have you ever had a martyr fantasy?  You feel someone has done you wrong or hasn’t appreciated me enough.   And you think to yourself.   What if I got some dread disease, or better yet keeled over from a heart attack while doing something nice and selfless for them.  Oh, then they would see, my goodness, my saintliness. How bad they would feel.   I admit it.  I’ve had something like that, more than I’d care to admit.   And when you do that, you are caught up in the pride of life.  

This epic pride leads you to self-righteous resentment at how others have mistreated you or simply not appreciated you.   This pride makes you smug at how clearly you are better than other folks around you.   Do you know what I felt when I first read that statistic about half of Americans not being able to handle a $400.00 emergency.   I felt superior.  I thought.  Well, that’s not me.  I’m better than that.   This pride leads you to gossip about others. It’s gets you caught jealousies and petty judgments. 

And what makes it deadly is it captures your heart and you don’t even realize it. You think you’re just fine.  Religious folks fall into this trap so easily.   This past week, our church elders wrote a pastoral letter to our city commission about the issue of certain street names in Hollywood, and the pain it had brought to members of our community.  If you’d like a copy, let me know, and I’ll send it on to you. 

The day after that commission meeting, I went to be part of a gathering of churches of all ethnic backgrounds uniting to make our county a better place, and give witness to the gospel.  I heard all the great things they were doing together.  But do you know what I was thinking?  Why didn’t any of them show up at that city commission in Hollywood like our church did?  Maybe they should have. Who knows?  But I wasn’t thinking that out of any sense of godly love or concern.   I was jealous of the church facility that I was sitting in.    So, I came up with something to help me feel that our church was still better than theirs.  But I cloaked my jealousy and my insecurity in righteous concern.   

Something similar happened with Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen this week.  People, including Christians, jumped to harsh judgments on why their church arena wasn’t open for flood victims.  Yet the picture was more complicated than folks realized.   During the last Houston flood, the church, then at a different location, housed 5000 flood victims.   During this crisis, the city did not request their help, possibly because they were aware that this arena has had flooding problems in the past, another reason Lakewood was reluctant to open its doors out of concern that they would create more problems if their building flooded.    As it was, no one who sought refuge in Lakewood Church was turned away, and as the week progressed, the church did open its doors to victims.  But that’s what epic pride will do. 

In your life, epic pride will blind you to your own faults.  It will lead you to judgments of others that completely miss what is actually going on with them.   Epic pride when it runs amok wrecks families.  It wrecks churches.  It even wrecks nations.   

So how do you escape from these epic desires that yearn to capture you, that desire to destroy you.   You look to Jesus, to the one who epically desires you, who broke through every boundary, even death, to bring you life.    And as you let his epic desire, his epic love for you, grasp and hold you, it will fill you like nothing else can.   Then, in that love, all your desires will find their rightful place.   You will not look to them to give what they can never give.  Why?  You will have already received that from this One whose epic love is always there to meet you where you are.   What desire or desires have become epic in your life?  Let them go.  Leave them with Jesus.   And let Him feed you until you want no more.