Archive for May, 2012

i am accepted by God as I am–AS I AM… and not as I should be. To speak the latter would be to speak empty words because I never am as I should be.  I know that in reality I do not walk a straight path.  There are many curves, many wrong decisions which in the course of life have brought me to where I am now and the word tells me that “the place on which i stand is holy ground” (Ex 3:5). 

i love the idea that God knows my name: “See I have branded you on the palms of my hands” (Is 49:16). God can never look at His hand without seeing my name. And my name–that’s me! St. Augustine said, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still accepts you.”  Wouldn’t that be great? It’s a desire we all share, that one day I will meet the person to whom I can really talk, who understands me and the words I say–who can listen and even hear what is left unsaid, and then accept me. Ann Marie is all that, but God is the total fulfillment of this idea.  He loves me with my ideals and disappointments, my sacrifices and my joys, my successes and my failures. It is one thing to know I am accepted and quite another thing to experience it. Sometimes it takes great effort to believe that I am accepted by God as I am.

The night before Jesus died, He prayed to the Father:  “that you love them as you loved me…so that your love for me may live in them: (John 17:23, 26. NAB).  It seems incredible that God loves me just as much as he loves his son.  Yet that’s exactly what the word says.  

As human beings we are divided in many ways: 

1) in time–For us, one minute comes after the other and our time is spread out. Not so with God. God lives always in one ever-present now. There is no division.  Eternity means that the whole of time is condensed in this one moment which lasts forever.

2) in space–We have certain limited perimeters. Not so with God. God is completely unlimited.

3) in love–We are divided in our love. We like a person very much (90%) or in an ordinary way (50%) or very little (20%). God does not measure love. God cannot but love totally–100%.  If i think God is a person who can divide his love, then i am thinking not of God but of myself. God is perfectly one, the perfect unity.  i have love, but God is love.  His love is not an activity.  It is his whole self.  If i grasp some small idea of this, i understand that God could not possibly give 100% of his love to his Son and then 70% to us.  He would not be God if He could do that.  In the dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, there is the impression that God has nothing to do but simply occupy Himself with Catherine.  And that is right!  The undivided attention of God is with me.

Courage is required and very often it is courage that is lacking. Why is it courageous to accept acceptance:  Firstly, when things happen to us which disappoint us, we are inclined to complain “How can God permit this?”  We begin to doubt the love of God.  It takes courage to believe in God’s acceptance no matter what happens to us.  Such an act of faith goes beyond my personal experience.  Faith is then an interpretation of life which I accept.  Secondly, God’s love is infinite. i can never grasp it, never get hold of it, much less control it.  The only thing i can do is jump into it. The Swedish convert Sven Stolpe said that faith means to climb a very high ladder, and there while standing on the very top of the ladder, to hear a voice which says, “Jump, and I’ll catch you.”  The one who jumps–he is the man of faith.  It is courageous to jump. It is fairly easy to believe in God’s love in general but it is very difficult to believe in God’s love for me personally.  Why me?  There are very few people who can really accept themselves, accept acceptance.  Indeed, it is rare to meet a person who can cope with the problem “Why me?”  Self-acceptance can never be based on my own self, my own qualities.  Such a foundation would collapse.  Self-acceptance is an act of faith.  When God loves me, i must accept myself as well.

Advertisements

Paul shared, I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Through Christ… Jesus said, “Abide in Me…abide in My love” (John 15:7,9). Love is more than an adjective that describes God. The love of God is God Himself: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The love of God is His presence around me. These thoughts could make me afraid, but if i take courage: if i want to make God my refuge, if i wan to “Through Christ,” the path i must take will lead me to deal with my fears to the point of dropping my guardedness and learn to stay inside the presence of God’s love. i have to come to the place where i submit into believing, “The Lord loves His people” (2 Chron. 2:11).

Love between people often starts as a feeling. God has feelings for me too: “The Lord takes pleasure in me/His people” (Ps. 149:4). God demonstrated His love for me. Jesus died on my behalf (Rom. 5:8). Another way God demonstrates His love is in His drawing near to me and holding me in His arms.

Being in love with Ann Marie , i enjoy it when she holds me with her arms around me. It should be the same way with God, only better. my desire and longing to be held by Ann Marie is evidence of my need to be held by God. He longs to hold me. Jesus said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).

The more i let myself delight in His love, the more i “Through Christ,” the more i will find freedom to believe. The more i believe, the more i will let myself be open to experience His presence as He holds me close.

God can hold me because God’s love has substance. i am told “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21). The Bible isn’t saying here that i should make sure God keeps loving me. With people that might be true, but not with God. Not at all! Instead, i am to keep myself inside the substance of His love, “Through Christ.” Jesus said it this way: “Abide in My love” (John 15:9). That means i should live inside it, through it. The love of God is a substance that i can stay inside because the love of God is God Himself: “The one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

Peter wrote about something similar: “The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet. 4:14). When you are “in love” “through Christ” with God, i draw near to Him because i want to be near Him. When i draw near to Him, His love, strength, spirit comes to rest on me, the closeness of His Holy Spirit becomes my delight.

It is right for me to depend on God for everything i need. Moment by moment, i need a source that constantly lavishes love and everything i need upon me. Only God can do that. i am to love the caress of God. To cling to His presence and hate trying to cling to anything else. i can trust God to lavish enough of His presence to quench my thirst.

i am to think about being in the throne room and close to God as a reality that is greater than the material world around me. i am not to be afraid when i become aware that He is pursuing me. Unlike many people i have known, God is good. God is not a predator with secrete intentions to hurt me: “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8).

i have often been told that it is important that i love God. And this is true. But is it far more important that God loves me! my love for God is secondary. God’s love for me is first: “This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us” (1 John 4:10). I can do all things is secondary to Through Christ.

i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things. i can do all things.

My computer is not stuck. These words were spoken by Ann Marie and i for us and our children. We spent purposed time drilling the idea into ourselves and more specifically into our children, that there was and is nothing we can’t do. When they were young and we were learning these words we had a can in our house so that when someone spoke words that said, “i can’t” they had to put a nickle in the can and later we used the “I Can’t” money for an “I Can” experience. As they became adults we continued to speak that they could do all things and that their lives did not have to be determined by circumstances but by the words written in Phillippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. It appears to have taken hold and for the most part worked well for them.

But… i have reservations as to how well it will work for all time. i think i put the emphasis on the wrong portion of the verse. In those days we were new to the word and many things were about what we could do, when in the natural, supposedly we couldn’t. Yes, i and they can do all things but there is more to the verse, in fact a more important portion of the verse. The first five words, “i can do all things” are followed by a condition for the success in living those first five words. These two words that follow bring about the sustainability for all time of the first five. They are what give me the strength to be able to overcome circumstances, to exceed what the things of this world may offer, the ability to have stability, an assurance that in the end, i can do all things. The two most important words in this verse are “Through Christ.” My reservation is that i did not impress these two words upon my children near as much as i did the “i can do all things.”

The “i can do all things” is incomplete in and of itself. Yet i see many who it still seems to work for and i have the same reservations for them as for my children. Mind you i am not making a judgement on my children nor anyone else, i am simply sharing a reservations. Both of my children have overcome many obsticles in their lives. Relationships that have left hurts, jobs that have been less than expected, children that challenge everyday life and the list goes on. i’m wondering today if i really have been challenged by anything that says “NO YOU CAN’T DO ALL THINGS! Yet in saying that, there are things that i am faced with that i know i cannot directly solve the problem. My daughter needs a new pancrease and… i cannot do all things, like getting her one. Yet the most important thing i can do is pray to the One who can, “Through Christ”. So with that in mind is it safe to say “i can do all things?”

i tend to leave the “Through Christ” words as understood. Yes, understood as in “everybody already knows that it’s “Through Christ.” i am today thinking i have been mistaken, not everybody knows that it’s “Through Christ.” And… not everybody who knows that it’s “Through Christ” understands what that means or looks like in everyday life. Let me use the example of marriage again to illustrate this. Ann Marie and i can do all things in marriage, not because we hang out together, not because we both want to, not because we believe we can and not because our parents drilled it into us, but we can do all things because we reallize that it is marriage as designed by God that we have the energy to do what marriage requires of us and to be able to do all things that marriage was intended to be.

The Amplified Bible says this well, “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am [h]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”

i recently watched a show that normally i don’t but i heard a great line. Someone was saying to the police chief that he looked tired and quickly added that he need to take some time and rest. The police cheif quickly responded, “the tired i am feeling cannot be cured with rest and sleep. i agree with the chief. The tired i feel cannot be solved by rest and sleep. So what’s the answer? The following post is where i went in search of finding that answer. Ann Marie keeps asking me, “what will make me happy? She seems to think i am sad or unhappy so that makes today’s post even more significant. This is my best friend asking the question.

The English word “happy” is simply defined as, “Fortunate or lucky…. cheerful…contented…characterized by pleasure….” The word’s presentation of “happy” is more substantive. For instance, the word does not present happiness as an experience that just happens because of luck or some shallow emotional state of mind. According to the word, i can be happy while being corrected by God, suffering for the sake of righteousness, and being challenged for the name of Christ (Job 5: 17; I Pet. 3: 14; 4: 14).

There are five Hebrew and two Greek words translated happy in the scriptures. One Hebrew word means “to be at rest, safe” (see Matt. 11: 28-30). Some suggest it would be better if many of these words were primarily translated “blessed” instead of “happy.”

Notice the places where the word applies the word “happy” to different individuals. The word says that those who fear the Lord are happy. In the King James, the writer of Psalms 128 and Solomon use the word blessed and happy to describe the man who fears the Lord (Ps. 128: 1, 2; Prov. 28: 13, 14). “Fear of the Lord” entails the matter of reverence and respect for God.

Happy are those who keep God’s laws. Agur wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29: 18). This is essentially what Jesus said in John 13: 17: “If ye know these things, happy (blessed, dm) are ye if ye do them.” It is especially needful that points be made about God’s laws in this age of lawlessness and disrespect for authority. In fact, one cannot be in a covenant relationship with God (the real source of happiness) without being in a correct posture relative to God’s commandments (I Jn. 2: 3-6; 5: 3).

Happy are those who have children. The word says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth” (Ps. 127: 3, 4). The language concludes by saying, “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (vs. 5). Children can be the source of grief, but there is also much joy associated with children (Prov. 3: 1-4).

Happy are those who do not condemn self. Paul said, “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in the thing which he alloweth” (Rom. 14: 22). The “faith” under consideration in Romans 14 is subjective faith, not God’s revelation (cp. Jude 3). Paul is addressing matters not taught on in God’s word; matters that are doctrinally and morally indifferent. In the circumstances of Romans 14, one needed to respect one’s conscience and not violate it (vs. 23).

Those who trust in the Lord. “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord., ” wrote the wise man (Prov. 16: 20). To trust in the Lord means that we look to him for guidance and instruction. It also means that we do what God has told us without questioning and doubting.

Those who require wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge are closely related. Wisdom, strictly distinguished, is knowledge in application. Many are unhappy because they lack wisdom. Their judgments and choices in life are wrong and lead to misery and failure. Hear the wise man: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Prov. 3: 13, see also 14-18). Wisdom is without equal (vs. 15). The way man acquires wisdom is by learning and doing God’s teachings (Prov. 1: 1-6; Matt. 7: 24-29).

The word contains many synonyms of “happy” or blessed. These references also contain the associated details and circumstances to find enjoyment in these conditions.

Example, there is “pleasure” (2 Cor. 12: 10). This pleasure is the result of a real relationship with God, even amid persecutions and such like. “Delight,” “contentment,” and “loving life” are all synonymous with happiness (Ps. 40: 8; Heb. 13: 5; I Pet. 3: 10). In addition, we read of being “glad” and “rejoicing” (Ps. 126: 3; I Pet. 1: 8).

In every one of these circumstances, there is the relationship with God and the submission to God’s teaching.

Keeping in mind what i have learned of biblical happiness, how it entails a state of blessedness and the understanding that all true blessings come from God (Jas. 1: 17). With these matters in mind, i want to consider the following passage that depicts the state of happiness:

In Acts 2, we read of people who learned they were lost and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37.) We read how these people were told to “repent and be baptized…for the remission of sins…” (vs. 38). Peter pointed out to these people that they had a responsibility in saving their own souls (vs. 40). As a result, we then read “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized…” (vs. 41). After they became Christians, they remained steadfast (vs. 42). We are told that they had “gladness and singleness of heart” (vs. 46).

my true happiness is not shallow and based on external stimulation. my true happiness is not material, is not inherited, and cannot be acquired through some recipe of human origin. my true happiness is based on a personal, intimate consistent relationship with God. my happiness is a lifestyle of blessedness that comes only from this relationship. Knowing my origin, purpose, and destiny is necessary to happiness (Gen. 1; Eccl. 12: 13; Matt. 25: 46). Biblical happiness can be experienced even in the middle of difficulties and struggles. Jesus speaks of men hating, separated from, and reproaching the Christian. Yet, Jesus said “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven…” (Lk. 6: 22, 23). Herein lies true happiness that i seek.

Caterpillars

Posted: May 21, 2012 in Wandering Thoughts

Story: Nearly 100 years ago, Henri Fabre studied and wrote about the habits of caterpillars. He noted that these caterpillars have a unique way of finding their way. While making a long trek in search of food, they spread a silk-like glue along the path.

He saw individual caterpillars lowering their heads. One caterpillar would eject silken threads from its lower lip. The caterpillar behind would eject glue from its lower lip, thus attaching the silk threads to the path they would need to follow on the return trip. The one behind would also lay some silken threads of its own.

No matter how difficult the road, the caterpillars always find their way.

Comments: This story stirred up something inside me and caused me to relate it to my life. Why am i sharing about caterpillars and what they eject from their lower lips, well, it’s more about the result of their actions than it is the action itself. i think  it would be great if God would lay down silk threads (Literally) that would be attached in place by glue from His lower lip so that no matter how difficult the road, i could always find my way. Pause… i am quite aware that i have His word and the Holy Spirit but those things are… well they just aren’t the same. They are sometimes elusive. When i say elusive it’s not because God is elusive but because my commitment to His word or to hearing the Holy Spirit often comes and goes because of those difficult roads.

Story: Fabre, it seems, was a bit of a mischief-maker. In one experiment, he cut the silken thread to see if he could interrupt the procession. Not surprisingly, the first caterpillar to find the disrupted line would pause.

Others would join in and, it seemed, debate whether to go in search of the silken threads that had been laid or return home with the mission unaccomplished.

Comment: Okay so much for my theory. There is a mischief-maker who disrupts my silken threads that link me to my Father. It’s his sole purpose, to disrupt the silken threads and cause me to pause  with my mission unaccomplished. i may also pause and debate whether i heard from God in the first place, and whether i should move forward or turn and run for cover.

Story: Finally, Fabre noted that one fearless caterpillar leader almost always emerged. This bold creature would cross the patch of road with no silk and would stretch its own thread in order to reconnect the broken pieces. The procession could then continue.

Comment: That’s the role Jesus played. He emerged as my fearless leader, laid down his life, so the patch of missing silk would be replaced with His own blood in order to connect me, the broken piece with my creator.

In another experiment, Fabre arranged the caterpillars in a circle. He then placed leaves and other nutrients in the center of the circle, eager to learn if any of the caterpillars would “break rank,” leaving the circle to reach the food. None did. Instead, they went round and round until their collective death.

Comment: Hears one comforting thing about all of this. God is not a mischief-maker and i am not His experiment.