Wanting the Passion of Christ...

     I showed the movie, "Immortal Beloved" several times to the different music history classes I've taught throughout the years. I was amazed at how they portrayed Beethoven. There was a scene where he was listening to someone play piano and responded by saying, "They lack passion."  I think in today's day we tend to misunderstand the definition of passion. 
    Have you ever met someone that seems to be existing but not living? Or have you ever felt like you're just going through the motions? I've felt both at times. But in the grander scheme, I have been challenged to live life -  passionately. 
    The actual definition of the word, "passion" is related to the "sufferings of Christ between the Last Supper and His death." In fact, if you want to break it down, passion really means suffering. As I've read down the line of explanations for the definition of passion, it is also defined as, "a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept." "Intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction." 
     I don't think we will ever really know how Jesus suffered until we get to heaven. Mel Gibson tried to convey Jesus' suffering in his movie, "The Passion of Christ." Besides the grueling visual beatings and torment that were displayed, the part that brought me to tears was when Mary wiped the blood off of Jesus' face as he walked down the road to His death. Imagine what your response would be as you're walking to your death and you are face to face with your mother. I know what I would say..."Mom! Help!" Jesus said to her, "Behold, I make all things new." Now I'm not  sure what Jesus actually said in that moment, but I do know what Hebrews 12:2 says. "For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus overmastered His feelings of suffering, agony, and pain. He had the "passion" to die. 
    We make choices everyday in the big and little decisions that come our way. Suffering may be a result of our choices or just the things that God allows in order to purify us. All we have to do is allow Him to take over and He will give us His desires... His passion. Only God can give us the strength to press on through our circumstances when He instills His passion in us. Regardless of what comes our way, never give up because of what is to come. He is making all things new. Suffering is inevitable, but joy will be the outcome. 

Don't forget to say thank you...

     These past couple of weeks I have seen God answer some prayers in areas of my life. It's funny how anxiety can try to get the best of you sometimes... Several times I recalled the scripture verse, Phil 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." So I've been challenged....
1. To pray more.  
2. To be thankful. 

     In Luke 17, the story of the 10 lepers sticks out to me. Only one out of the ten lepers who was healed returned to Jesus to say thank you. Imagine...you have a disease that causes you to be untouchable and cast out from society. You're considered socially unacceptable and completely labeled unclean for the rest of your life. To live with this not only physically, but emotionally would have ruined a person. If you were to be healed and cleansed by Jesus in an instant, that would be an unexplainable experience. Nevertheless, only one said thank you.  I'm challenged with this concept...  To have a heart of gratefulness and thanksgiving is so important. When I pray for something and God is faithful in answering the big and the little concerns on my heart, I never want to forget to say... thank you!  Even if God doesn't answer my prayers right away... I still want to say... thank you!

Dying To Your Dream

    Have you ever heard of dying to your dream before? No - I haven't either. A good friend of mine has told me for years, "Dream BIg!'. I believe in dreaming big to this day, but there may be some dreams God will ask us to die to... only for the sole purpose of Him resurrecting it to life. 
     When you're on a journey with God, it is an adventure. A couple of years ago I read the book, "The Dream Giver," by Bruce Wilkerson. That book changed my life. I always believed God gave us dreams. But never looked at it in the perspective that "He is the Dream."  God may call us to do things out of our comfort zone and it will stretch us in ways we can't imagine. There were so many times I said to God, "I can't do this." I'm realizing more and more that "that's the point." 
      I think God wants us to come to the point of giving up so that He can show us that it's not about doing things in our own strength, but in His. I do believe that there are things we can do if we put our mind, heart, and attention toward it. But that's not the point... The point is that only God can open doors and bring life to dreams that we never could do in our own capacity.  Success and greatness are measured very different in the eyes of God. I think one day we will all be amazed when we see what God accounts as success.
    There are dreams that have happened that God has brought to fruition in my life. But then I knew when He asked me to "die to it." So as of late, I've had to take steps of faith. I've had to walk into "the unknown." . But EVERY TIME without fail, God has covered me and taken me to another place - a "new dream." A dream that He may have asked me to die to, or a dream I've already died to. You see ultimately, no matter what we do or where we go... GOD IS THE DREAM.  Jesus died.... and now He lives.