The Ultimate in Love Letters

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My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.
Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.
Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.
Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.
John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.
1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.
1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.
Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.
Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.
Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.
Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.
Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.
Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.
Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.
John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.
Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.
1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.
Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.
1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.
Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.
Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.
Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?
John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

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Go Lower Yet

footwashing

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

John 13:14

Some Christians reading this part of scripture, have concluded that foot washing should be part of the Churches customary routine.  Their case is compelling, and they may be right in their interpretation.  There is as much support for this as with other things, and Lord knows we could use the humility by getting on your knees with a basin and towel before a brother.  It probably would relieve issues between saints. It may even heal Church splits.

Jesus pronounced that His act of service was to be imitated by everyone who would follow.  He further would assert that His example would be emulated by every believer that followed after Him.  Our service to our brother, or sister is to help them become clean Christians.  We have this ministry of the basin and towel to remove the dirt and filth that comes from walking in this world.  Of course, we cannot remove sins.  But we can serve as Jesus would and intervene with His power.

Cleansing people we encounter will be a demanding challenge.  It will call us to strip our lives down to a minimum, and to get lower.  We need to get so low that we’re on the floor.  This requires much grace and discipline.  We must weed out every pretense and pride–especially the kind that says, “Look at me serving; am I not wonderful?  I am a true disciple now.”  We are to shake off thoughts like that.  We are to love others, and be brutal on ourselves.

While in my first year of Bible college, I developed a bitter dislike for a classmate.  He had been a lead guitarist; he was handsome and popular, and he oozed pride from every pore (at least I could see it).  I took it on myself to be God’s hand in humbling him.  I became antagonistic and scorned him every chance I could.  Within days, my prayer life shut down, the heavens became brass.  One day I was praying and the Holy Spirit graciously zapped me.  I became aware of my sin toward my brother, and I repented. There was a real definite leading, to find a basin and a towel, and then to wash his feet.  God reconciled us, as I kneeled at his feet in that dorm room.  From that point on we became very good friends.

We must go lower still.  We must scrub our way into the heart of our sister and brother with a basin and towel.  Water always finds the lowest point, were it pools and gathers.  When we lower ourselves even deeper we find His presence waiting for us.  But we must cleanse our own hands first, and His blood must work its ministry on me. It’s then I can proceed to clean the filth off of their feet.  If I am not clean myself I will only perpetuate the dirt on to my brother with my dirty hands.

The challenge for us is exceptionally real.  Christlikeness will always demand this humble grace.  When we think about being like Jesus we must make sure we are following the Jesus in the Bible.  The Jesus who washed dirty feet as a slave.

Let us not have any foolish nonsense of a discipleship that doesn’t kneel before our brothers.

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A Blessed Discomfort

Love One Another

What follows is NOT an ordinary, run-of-the-mill blessing.  Some would undoubtedly wish for one, and others anticipating what follows, will skip this blog.  It happens all the time.  But, at distinct times, the Holy Spirit surgically slices through our foggy-ness and illuminates us to ourselves.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
 
May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression, and exploitations of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
 
May God bless you with tears to shed for those
who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy.
 
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

–From a Franciscan Benediction

Blessed with discomfort, anger, tears and foolishness.  Too often, we often think our discipleship as a massive undertaking for a personal renovation.  And when that does happen, thank God!   But we must drive this home, spiritual make-overs are not the point of holy living!  We are directed to engage the world and to hammer away at the lies, in order to free people, under the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit.  When we serve, give, love, we will be surprised to find that our own lives will change, almost as an after-thought. Just maybe, that is what God intends? Maybe.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:40, NLT

 

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Expect Times of a Certain Clarity

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Bipolar is complicated

There are times when things get exceptionally clear.  Those moments burst into our muddled thinking and bring a crystal clarity to us.  It doesn’t happen very often, but through it we start to see something our present situation.  It’s icy water splashed into our sleepy face.  It completely adjusts us and we are launched into a startling awareness of our hearts, minds and relationships.

To the mentally ill, it verges on not quite enough (but sometimes it is) when we are brought into this place.  Alert and awake, we are ushered into a certain sense of what is real, and what isn’t.  Change often hinges on this special discernment; it truly is an amazing work of the Holy Spirit.  We discover we can’t change ourselves, but the Spirit can.  The Bible and its promises are soaked with His power to make this happen.

There is a certain hope and security that comes from His restoration of our mixed-up lives. His work is quite exceptional, for He is an Artisan. However,  we will never be happy or at peace if we refuse.  And if we decide poorly we will get stuck inside a deep loneliness, and failure– the realization of being cast aside.

It’s scary, but so much is based on what we decide in these chosen times.  Depression and darkness will continue to pelt us.  But there is no other authentic shelter to be found!  By our stubbornness and pride we will be soaked through and through.  But even in this dejected state, we can still decide to harden our hearts. If we do not choose Him, we will stumble in our own darkness and sin. This is a miserable place, I have been there.

The darkness really shouldn’t confuse us.  (We most certainly should not let this happen.)  On just a volitional basis (thinking) we must not let the darkness reassert itself into our lives.  We are delivered by what the Lord Jesus has done for us.  He shepherds us through a darkness that is quite convoluted and complex. (Think— being lost in a minefield at night.)

The desperate nature of our mental illness should bring us to see our steady confusion as darkness.  It advances on us and so many can’t resist its strength.  But being mentally ill is not something that someone can just decide on, it is real and carries a venom that few can resist.  (Any romanticism of “being a tragically wounded poet” person, is so foolish, and dangerous.)

But the truth is, we have Someone who has volunteered to be our Savior and advocate.

He will speak on our behalf.  He alone can escort us through this terrible darkness.  Without His voice we can’t defend ourselves, and we will just fizzle out into a blind future and an ugly eternity.  We are desperately sick; and He is the only cure.

If you are presently struggling, I would tell you that you have a home.  It is a place of an acceptance and assurance.  The cost of depression and delusion can’t even come close to matching even the simplicity and basic place of just being a “minor” disciple of Jesus Christ.

But He has been pursuing you, in a deep hope you will respond to Him.  I exhort you to embrace this love and trust Him, even when it gets very hard.  But no matter what happens, don’t ever give up.

 

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