Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘father’

or not!

I don’t know about you, but I like to be comfortable. I like comfortable clothes, and comfortable books, and a comfortable life. Some people are armchair quarterbacks; for most of my life, I’ve been an armchair adventurer. I like best to sit on a winter’s night before a cozy fire, snuggled up with a good book or two, a cup of hot chocolate, and somebody I love.

But I’ve been discovering that being comfortable doesn’t help you in the long run.

For instance, if you are pregnant, and lie around the house the whole pregnancy, yes, it feels good. When you can’t see your feet any more, and your balance is so off that it takes major shifting and the help of at least one other person just to stand up, the idea of just staying in bed until the baby comes looks pretty good.

But if you get up and walk every day of that pregnancy, you will have a better (probably shorter, too) labor and delivery, because your body is in better shape to do what it’s supposed to do.

This holds true for pretty much all the rest of life, too, in all its facets. When we were babies, our parents fed us, changed us, carried us around. But by the time we were toddlers, we should have been doing a lot of that ourselves. Sure, we got carried once in a while, but by the time you’re two, you can and should be walking and feeding yourself. Under adult supervision, of course.

If there is something wrong with the baby, this normal growth might not happen, or happen at a later time. And that is sad. But what if there is nothing wrong? What if the baby just sits there, refusing to learn to sit up, or crawl, or stand, or walk, or run? What if the baby chooses to take the easy way out, and let its parents keep carrying it, feeding it, etc. for the rest of its life?

Spiritually, it’s much the same thing – when we are first saved, Father God wraps us up in the blanket of His love, and takes care of a lot of stuff for us. But eventually we start to grow up, and then we need to learn to handle stuff ourselves. I don’t say ‘by ourselves’, because we are in Him and He is in us, so we are never alone again, and never need to do things by ourselves. But we do need to learn to do things. We need to learn to stand, to walk, to resist the enemy.

Out of all the things God could have called Himself –Creator; Almighty God; Spirit; the uncreated, unending, supreme being; and all the names of God we find in the Old Testament, when Jesus came He revealed God to us as Father. God deliberately chose the concept of physical birth to represent the spiritual life. We really do follow the same growth pattern spiritually (and in the other facets) as we do physically. We are born again (John 3:3), we are children (I John 3:2), we are friends (John 15:15), we are His bride (Eph. 5:25-28). As we learn more of Him, we grow up, until we become the mature man of Eph. 4:13.

But we are capable of stopping this growth process in ourselves spiritually (and in other facets, too, but that’s for another time). Whenever Holy Spirit presents us with an opportunity to grow, to learn more of God and ourselves, to change and become more than we were yesterday, we have the option of saying, “No”.

We can decide that we want to take the easy way out, to become armchair Christians, so to speak – reading of others’ adventures in God: their exploits, victories and defeats – instead of experiencing our own. Watching them play the championship game on TV, or even in the stands, but never suiting up and heading down to the scrimmage line.

Let’s get one thing clear before I go on. There is nothing wrong with watching others in order to learn how to do it yourself. That’s how babies learn to walk, to speak, to do all the things we humans do – they watch us first.

But if you just keep watching, and never try to do it yourself, then you can be, at the end of your life, a 40-year-old spiritual baby. Ugh!

Another thing to consider before you decide to take the easy way out – if the time ever comes when you decide to learn to do a specific thing, or it becomes absolutely necessary, it will be a lot harder to learn! They say the best time to teach children a foreign language is before the age of 5. I didn’t have too hard a time of it learning Spanish in high school, but I’m now trying to learn French, and my brain just isn’t as absorbent!

And, trust me, there will come a time when you have to get up and walk spiritually, or run, or fight. Even though our Father is a gentleman, He is also our Father. What kind of father allows his child to sit in a corner, never learning, never growing?

I need to add here that sometimes, the hard thing is to trust Him by doing nothing in your own power or wisdom. To just wait, trusting, for Him to do it. This can be harder than going and doing. And while it looks the same as doing nothing – on the outside – on the inside we are fighting giants, and wrestling demons. To trust, when everything inside your mind and heart is screaming that He can’t be trusted, is spiritual warfare of an extreme kind. To wait, doing nothing, because if you did something it would be in your strength and not His, is ‘the hard way’ just as much as going out into life’s sewers to kill rats and save homeless, hopeless wanderers.

So the next time you are facing learning something new spiritually, or fighting a bigger battle than you think you can handle (He is with us, remember?), or walking out in faith on to that invisible bridge (I love that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!) and you think you’d rather not, you’d rather take the easy way out, think again. If you put it off, it will be harder to do later.

Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t do that at Calvary, take the easy way out? He thought about it, even prayed about it (in the garden of Gethsemane), but in the end, He took the hard way, and bought our freedom!  Thank God that He did!

May you be blessed with opportunities to NOT take the easy way out. And may He show you very clearly that He is with you, and will not let you face more than you can handle as long as you let Him be in and with you, helping you and giving you strength and wisdom and power to finish the job.


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. (C.S. Lewis)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Don’t call names!”

How many times as a child did you hear that from a parent?

How about this one:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

Or maybe you heard, “stop being such a _______!” (Fill in the blank yourself – idiot, goofball, s.o.b., dumbbell, etc.)



The fact is, bad names do hurt us. Especially when someone we love uses them on us.  In John Eldredge’s books, Captivating and Wild At Heart, he shows us how the names we are called by our father create the filters we view ourselves through for the rest of our lives, unless and until Father God heals them.

Jesus understood the power of this, and addressed it in Matt. 5:22, when He said that whoever calls his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire.



But where did all this name-calling come from? Why do we do it? Here’s what I think:

In Genesis 2,  God told Adam to name the animals. That’s an amazing job, when you think about it! But Adam could handle it, because he was made in the image of the God who names all the stars. (Ps. 147:4)

So we were created with the ability to sort and classify and label things. And that’s a good ability to have . . . when it comes to the physical realm around us. Where would we be without the ability to classify plants or animals or minerals; to sort and identify steps in the process of sedimentation or fermentation; or to label the parts of a machine, so that replacement parts can be quickly obtained?

But, since mankind has fallen out of communion with God, our natural abilities often become problems. This ability to name is an excellent example of a good thing gone bad. While it has made scientific and technological progress possible, when it comes to naming people, it has frequently been twisted into something negative. It is easier to call someone a bad name than a loving one. It is easier to label someone, than to understand their similarities to you, and the reasons for their differences. It is easier, in fact, to label whole groups or races of peoples, rather than accept them in the ‘brotherhood of man’.



One of the reasons Jesus chewed out the Pharisees was their insistence on labeling people. They had all kinds of labels – sinners, publicans, winebibbers (doncha love that King James language?) — and Jesus hated them all! Not because they were labels, but because the labels implied value, or lack thereof.

Every name or label we stick on people has a value attached: sweetheart, honey, dear, darling, bitch, s.o.b., bastard, ignoramus, idiot, and a host of others that I refuse to either say or write.  (I heard once that the more loved a person is, the more nicknames they have. The opposite is probably also true. Because names are our way of assigning value.)



Is this what Father God intended when He gave the naming ability to Adam? No. So why do we do it? Because we no longer get our value from God, so we have to get it somewhere else.

Before Adam and Eve sinned, they knew who they were, knew their value to God, knew His delight in them. But fallen man is no longer connected to Him, so no longer knows his value to God. So we try to get our value from others. From parents first, then from siblings and teachers and friends and lovers and children and bosses and . . . the list is endless. And it never really works, so we go looking again, for someone to name us with a name that will give us eternal, unending value. We may look to the same people, or to different ones, but we never stop looking.



One of the many facets of the finished work of Christ, is this one – God Himself tells us who we are. He names us.

He calls us beloved (Eph. 1:6), friends (John 15:15), sons (I John 3:2), fellow heirs (Eph. 3:6), His body (I Cor. 12:27), His workmanship (Eph. 2:10), a new creation (II Cor. 5:17), His own special people (I Pet. 2:9) and more. (That thing earlier about nicknames? He has a lot of names for you. You sure must be loved!)

As you travel on your journey farther into His kingdom, He applies more labels/names to you. He has called you all of them from before the foundation of the world, but only tells you what they are when you are ready to hear them. For instance, if you had an abusive father, it might take significant healing for you to be able to think of God as your Father, and you as his son or daughter. So He’ll wait to apply that name until you’re ready to hear it.

As you allow Him to name you, your sense of worth will increase, and you will not feel the need to decrease someone else’s worth in order to make yours seem more. So let Him name you, beloved.



We all have the ability to name. It’s in us because He put it there. But let’s use it for good, not evil. Let’s assign His values to people. God might have said that mankind is wicked, or evil, or sinful, but He never said we are worthless!!!



May you learn your true value in Father God’s eyes, not in another’s. And may that set you free to be able to give value to those around you by the names you call them.

. . . And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Rev. 2:17b

FYI – While ‘grace’ and ‘faith’ take up less than one page each in Strong’s, ‘name’ takes up almost 4 pages. Must be pretty important, huh?

Read Full Post »

Abiding

During the last year or so, the focus of my relationship with God has been on being in Him.

All the dealings of God with the soul of the believer are in order to bring him into oneness with Himself, that the prayer of our Lord may be fulfilled: ‘That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.’ . . . ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.’

This soul-union was the glorious purpose in the heart of God for His people before the foundation of the world. It was the mystery hid from ages and generations. It was accomplished in the incarnation of Christ. It has been made known by the Scriptures. And it is realized as an actual experience by many of God’s dear children.”

The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith



We’ve gone through a lot of stages to get to this point – learning to understand Him as my Father, getting free of lies about Him and myself, etc. – all of which were necessary for me to be able to trust Him.

So now I’m learning what it means . . . what it looks like . . . how it works . . . to abide in the Vine. (John 15:5)



I could give you a lot of ‘Christianese’ on the subject, but if you’re like me, that just confuses the issue, so I’ll just share what I’ve learned.

  • I’ve learned that ‘childlike faith’ is much simpler, and harder, than it sounds. It is believing in Him and trusting His Word so completely that you don’t even think about it. Little children (up to about age five) don’t even think about being part of the family, they just are. They don’t think about: will Mom give me food when I’m hungry? Will there be a bed when I’m sleepy? Will I get a hug when I need it? They just live! And the trust that all their needs will be provided is so natural, they aren’t even aware of its existence. They never have to make a choice to trust.
  • I’ve learned that it’s so natural that it feels wrong. I mean, with all the brainwashing I received in church, the concept that I don’t have to focus, concentrate, work at being in Him was so foreign to me that it took a long time to understand this part. In fact, I’m still working on it. Just about every day I see another area where I haven’t trusted my Heavenly Father. And I have to reject the guilt that tries to come sneaking in, nagging that I’m not trusting Him because I’m not praying about it or struggling to do it, etc.
  • I’m learning that abiding in Him is not this intense awareness that I work to maintain. Sometimes I am aware of Him, sometimes I’m not. But either way, I am still in Him. And He is in me. In fact, those little nudges to do or not do something, those little feelings that I should or shouldn’t say something, all of that is abiding in Him.
  • I’ve learned that abiding in Him is something that we do all the time, even when we’re not consciously aware of it. Example: I’m just talking to someone – not having prayed beforehand, or even being conscious of His presence at that point – and I say something that changes their view of themselves or God or life, and I don’t even realize what I said until I hear it. That is Him abiding in me, and me so one with Him that He speaks through me.
  • All those things I was taught about the gifts of the Spirit were really just examples of how He works through us, when we are IN HIM and He is in us. We don’t have to work at producing them; they’re just there when we need them, because we’re there – in Him. Same with the fruit of the Spirit. It just grows naturally, not through striving.
  • I’ve learned that, although this is a place we are to just ‘be’, it’s hard to get there. Mostly because I keep working to get there. That old cliché – ‘let go, and let God’ – isn’t really a cliché at all! That’s really what needs to happen. I need to let go of trying; of my need to do it myself; of the feeling that if I don’t focus on it, it won’t work. I need to just accept that because of Christ and his death on the cross, I AM in Him!! Period!
  • I’ve learned that this is another facet of the finished work of Christ. He came to restore us to God, to the relationship with Him that mankind was originally created for. (That finished work is so immense! Wow!)

Every so often I sit down with the concordance and my Bible, looking up the meanings of the words, and writing them in the margins. In verse 8 of Genesis 3, the word translated ‘cool’ (as in ‘God walked in the garden in the cool of the day’) is actually translated everywhere else as wind or spirit. So that made me wonder . . . if God walked in the Garden in the wind or spirit of the day, does that mean He was always there? Did they, until the fall, actually live in His presence all the time, every moment? Hhmmm.

But whether or not Adam and Eve did, that seems to be what we, the new creation, are called to. (see John 14 – 17)

	

May this be your prayer and your experience:

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

From ‘Be Thou My Vision’

An Irish hymn from the 8th century

Read Full Post »

The time has come, the Spirit says,
To speak of many things . . .
Of facets and of fractals
And living with the King.

(Okay, I personally hate Alice in Wonderland. It’s too scary and too nonsensical for me. In fact, I’ve always wondered what psychotropic drug Carroll was using when he wrote it. But . . .  the time has come!)

Father God has shown me many things over the years, and He has made it clear that I need to start sharing!

So, here goes . . .

Facets

About 18 years ago, give or take, I had just had a revelation of how much I (me!) am totally loved and completely accepted by the Father, which drastically altered my world view, and changed my whole life.  This caused me to revisit a lot of the things I’d always believed about Him, me, life, etc.

One day, I was thinking about trials and tribulations – why do we go through them? Now, being in church all my life, I’d heard a couple different doctrines on this subject. One said that God was so holy, so pure, and we were so vile, that He couldn’t stand to be anywhere near us. So He had to clean us up by putting us through stuff to get rid of the sin/impurity in us.  (Where is ‘we are become the righteousness of Christ’ in that doctrine???)

The other, similar idea, was that God was putting us on the fire, ‘burning off the dross’, to make us like Christ. This one (actually, they both) had a lot of scripture to back it up, making it clear that we were not clean, or acceptable, in our human condition, even after salvation.  As I said – similar, but without the disgust/dislike of the first one! The focus here was on recreating us into His image, rather than cleaning us up.

But, with my new understanding of just how much Father God loves and accepts us, I was now questioning God’s supposed motives in these doctrines. (I have gradually been made to see that motive is everything – isn’t that the point of Jesus’ words about looking at a woman to ‘lust after her in your heart’ and the rest of that section of Matthew 5?  What the heart motive is, is what counts with Him (I Sam. 16:7).  So I think we need to understand His heart motives, too.)  We all, mostly unconsciously, absorb the underlying motives of what we are taught, ascribing them to God/parents/whoever the authority is in the situation, whether they are true or not.  So now I had to look at what I had previously believed were God’s motives underlying these doctrines.

The first one made it clear that God couldn’t really stand us the way we are, couldn’t even look at us, we were so filthy.  So He had to change us.  I was left with the belief that we were disgusting at the best of times, even after the work of the cross!  This really made me not believe that He loved us, me in particular.  In fact, this left me with the belief that the only reason He hadn’t squished the whole creation into a ball of clay and started over, was some kind of dislike of being wrong.  So He was gonna fix it, and show ’em all!

The second one was a little more charitable – nothing indicated that He didn’t love us, but I sure was left with the impression that He didn’t like us! After all, He thought we needed to be made over into Christ’s image, which sure sounded like He disliked humanity. This didn’t change my basic belief that He didn’t love me, but I was able, finally, to believe that He could, just possibly, love humans in a sort of overall ‘I made it, so I gotta love it’ kind of way.

But neither of these ideas fit with what He had just shown me about His total love and acceptance of us (me!) ‘while we were yet sinners’! And even after!

So, I asked Him, ‘why do we go through trials and tribulations?’

* * *

And He showed me a huge diamond, maybe two stories tall, with me standing in front of it, looking at this facet that was about two feet wide. He said, “When you get saved, you see this facet of me – Savior. But I want you to know more of me, so I allow situations in your life which cause you to see other facets of Me – Healer, Provider, Father, and more.” here I moved a little to one side, and found myself facing a different facet, then another and another. “Everything that happens in your life is an opportunity for you to know me more fully. The trials and tribulations are not to clean you up so I can stand you, but to show you new facets of Me.”  Wow! Yet another false doctrine bit the dust! Yes, Father allows us to go through stuff, but not because He can’t stand us! Because He loves us, wants to help us, but even more, wants us to know Him.

* * *

I can hear you disagreeing! Lots of chatter about holiness, etc. and I’m not trying to nullify those scriptures which talk about cleaning us up. But what He showed me that day was His underlying motive, which always, always, always, is His great unconditional love for us, and His desire to have an intimate relationship with us.  He hates sin because it hinders that, and because it hurts us! If you love someone, you hate anything that keeps them away from you, or hurts them in any way.

What He showed me with the facets on the diamond, was that I need to start looking at the trials and tribulations in my life as opportunities to learn to know my Father and God better!  Not as punishment or as something motivated by disgust of me.

* * *

Over the years He has added to my understanding of this vision:  I saw that as we get to know a certain facet of God – Healer, for instance – it does change us, making us more like Christ.  Eventually, I also saw that as we are changed by getting to know this or that facet of God, we then begin to reflect that facet of Him to others.

Those are just side effects, though, of the real point, which is to know Him!  The more and better we know Him, the more facets He cleans and polishes in us, and the better we reflect Him to the world. (And, trust me, you can’t clean or polish them yourself! It must be His work, through revelation of Himself to you.)

The point is knowing Him!  Everything in the Christian life is based on that, and flows from that.  If it’s based on anything else, it’s ‘wood, hay and stubble’.

So the next time you are facing a trial, instead of wondering what is wrong with you, ask our Father what He wants to reveal of Himself to you through this. The answer will be amazing! And freeing!

* * *

Be blessed with understanding, wisdom, and revelation of more true facets of Him!

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.    John 17:3

Read Full Post »