The Father and His Son

Long ago and far away there lived a Father and his Son who had a relationship that is rare on the face of this earth. We’ll call them Father and Son. We don’t know a lot about the details of their relationship, but there are some things we know for certain. Although both grown men, the two could often be found enjoying each other’s company.  Son had an artistic mind and found pleasure in creating things – a real master craftsman. And Father took equal pleasure in seeing what Son made.

father. son

One day tragedy struck and darling Son suffered a severe injury while rescuing Father’s dog that had been caught in a well. Death appeared imminent for Son. Father felt as if a knife had cut through his own soul watching Son suffer so.  He drew closer to Son’s bedside and tenderly took his hand, giving the comfort only a loving father can.  The power of their love enabled Son to pull through the darkness and, in the end, fully recover. They could again be found side-by-side, loving on the pup that had nearly been the end of it all.

There was no room for one-upmanship, manipulation or control in their relationship and no sense of fear or dread, no concern of inadequacy.  The relationship was built on trust, mutual respect and personal freedom. The result was sheer enjoyment and delightful companionship for both.  It was the envy of all who saw it.

Amazingly, this is real. This is the quality of relationship described in the Bible between God the Father and Son before time began. Close, warm, tender, playful, creative, pleasurable. There was a third party to this relationship. His name is the Holy Spirit. We don’t know as much about Him, but He was a part of the giving and receiving of benevolent love.

More amazingly, you and I are invited to walk into the relationship with God. Listen to the prayer of Jesus in John 17:

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.

It was Jesus’ desire that we experience the same quality of love relationship with each other and with His Father as they have been experiencing for eons past. God is not content to simply spare us. He wants to save us out of everything painful and into a beautiful friendship.

You are not alone. You don’t need to perform to be acceptable or accepted. You are loved deeply and tenderly. You don’t have to wait until heaven to experience this. He wants to start growing into this relationship with you right now. Do you trust Him? Will you believe He’s inviting you, just as you are, into the inner circle?

Jesus opened the door of trust in our hearts. Now walk through it.

He’s the hero. And it’s great news!

See Isa 42:1, 6; Pro 8:30, 31; Zech 13:7; John 1:18; Mat 3:17; John 8:29; John 17:24; and John 10:30. 

 

 

 

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Experiencing Grace

No matter of religious persuasion, or no persuasion at all, we inherently understand the powerful freedom that comes when we find a safe person to whom we are able to admit our guilt, speak our shame, and cut the cords from the demon-burdens we bear. I was recently introduced to the following table to help people work through their past grievances and failings. It was described something like this:

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Now, because I was at a religious meeting when I heard about this, we used more religious terms than what I’ve got on the table. The first column was titled “sin” and the process was called “confession”.  And in religious terms we would call the final column “repentance” – or turning away from prior actions, desires, or beliefs.

Anyone of any faith or no faith at all can go through this process and find some level of relief and feel like they’re starting with a clean slate.  They can get up the next day, read the list, remind themselves of the kind of person they’d rather be, and make choices that work toward that end.

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But through the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus, so much more is available to the believer.  Listen to this good news:

Make your list. And as a believer in Jesus and His gift of grace, tear away the first two columns and destroy them. Shred them. Burn them. Have your dog eat them. You get the idea. God remembers your sin no more.

Now read the words in the last column out loud and let this sink in: Because of the gift of Jesus, God already sees you this way and He promises to  remake you into what He already says you are.  That’s right. It’s not just a clean slate – but a complete slate.

You don’t deserve it and you don’t have to work for it.

It’s a gift.

That’s forgiveness. That’s love. That’s grace.

If you don’t know Jesus and the place you have in His story, or if you have been a Christian and this is new to you, I invite you into God’s reality today.

By His wounds we are healed. 

Jesus is the hero and that’s good news!

Dear Christian Porn User

Dear Christian Porn User,

I know what you’ve been up to. I’ve seen the browser history, the credit card bills. I’ve found that stash of magazines you thought you hid in the basement. I’ve heard your stories when you thought I wasn’t listening. You may think you’re being clever, but you’re not.

You’ve probably said you think there’s nothing wrong with it – that no one is harmed by it. But your attempts to hide it and your defensiveness when caught betray that your heart knows differently. We do not hide that which is right and just and pure.

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I know you go to church every week and have called yourself a Christian all your life, but don’t fool yourself with your title. Do not let who you think you have to be blind you to who you really are. And listen up, because I’ve got some things to say to you!

Jesus loves you.  

Yes, I know. I know you’re a hypocrite. God knows, too. And He’s crazy about you – right now! He loves you. It’s not conditional. He doesn’t ask that you change your ways before you accept His love. In fact, accepting His love is the only way to change your heart.

The gospel is for you.

You’ve often heard about how we need to tell the unchurched about Jesus. But, the good news is, the gospel is for you, too. While you were an enemy of God, Christ died for you. He took on the wages of sin for you. On the cross, He  freely chose to die, forsaken by His Father and without hope for Himself, to give you the right to a new life.

You are valuable.

The cross tells of your value. The God of the universe – the one who can create stars or tell mountains to rise up or to fall down – He offered His Son to bear the price of your sin and mine. Do not reject or scorn the value He places on having a relationship with you.

Now, leave it!

Walk away from it. You know the fleeting moments of pleasure are a high price to pay for the dysfunction it’s brought to your home and the chaos in your heart and soul. So leave it. You’re tired of the scramble for more and feeling like it controls you. So leave it. But you actually can’t, can you? You’ve tried and it pulls you back every time. Perfect! Yes, perfect! You are in the perfect spot to drop your pride, stop the charade and proclaim your utter helplessness.

Call out to Jesus.

I know you are in the church, but call out to Him from the broken place you find yourself. His mercies are new every morning. Now is the time for salvation. Allow His love to soothe and heal those hurts of your past that have been so influential in where you find yourself today.

Pray these words:

Lord God, I acknowledge that I am unable to control my desires. You know the brokenness of my life. I need you, Lord. I am a sinner. Please forgive me. Thank you for displaying Your love and might on the cross through the death and resurrection of Jesus. You overcame the power of sin on my behalf! Sin no longer has to reign over me. Jesus, I want my old life to die with You and Your risen life to live in me. Holy Spirit, remind me of this love and new life throughout my day. Thank You for loving me even while I am a sinner. You are a compassionate God, full of mercy. In Jesus name, Amen.

I urge you to find two or three Christ-followers who will not condemn you, but will walk with you in humility and uplift the cross of Christ to you daily. In His strength is your freedom. In His love is your healing. You cannot do this alone.

Now, to you other Christians still reading because you wanted to see what cursings might be called upon the sinning pornography users, I hope you realize that a good many things could be the topic of this blog. Exchange pornography for pride, workaholism, gossip, greed or self-exaltation. It’s not as easy to count the victims of those acts, but they are destroying others and ourselves just the same. They are a violation of the law of love – out of harmony with God.  My message to you is the same.

People” don’t need Jesus.

WE need Jesus.

Practicing Medicine

“How long have you been practicing?” the elderly patient asked. I had only been out of school a short time and the way he said it implied to me that he thought I had a bit to learn. A bad taste came in my mouth. “‘Practicing’ medicine?” I thought. “These are people. I can’t practice on them.  I better know what I’m doing or not be doing it at all.”

Some fifteen plus years later, my perspective is different. I sure hope I’m still practicing medicine. Practicing means I’m still learning. Practicing means I’m still open to new solutions.  Practicing means I get better with time instead of just older. “Practicing medicine” means it is of value to me, I do the best I can, and I put effort into getting better at it all the time.

stethoscope

In the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” author Brene Brown has suggested a whole new way to apply that idea and I have found it to be full of grace. Try this: “I practice compassion in my life.” “I am a practicing Christian.” “I practice forgiveness.” “I practice self-control.” “I practice healthy boundaries.” “I practice temperance.” Those statements mean that I value those things, I am doing the best I can, and I am putting effort into learning to do them better with time.  It accepts the fact that this life is a journey and we attain the skills to do it well through the process of living it.  “Practicing” gives us grace to forgive ourselves.  Today I’m going to practice.

Front Room

I’ve been doing some rearranging. I’ve had a fish tank in the recesses of my tornado shelter – the closet under the stairs. The glass box sat as a storage unit for miscellaneous fish tank parts and pieces. It still held the bright blue rocks from the last fish tank venture. No one visiting my home would have known it was hiding away. I recently decided to change that.

After researching desired water qualities for various fish, the kids and I made a project of pulling the tank out and bringing it up to the front room.  We got the filter system going and stabilized the water, then went to our local fish store to pick out the new residents.

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Yep, we got a loach.  Just the name of it as it rolls off your tongue sounds like it should be disgusting. And really it is.  But that silly looking thing has brought us much entertainment as we’ve watched it wiggle its whiskers searching for the latest wafer that was dropped in the water.  It’s been a good addition to our front room.

Dr. Fred Luskin, author of several books on forgiveness, suggests that our brains are like a house. Now, I’m a woman whose brain is more like a swimming pool than it is like the slots in the mail room, but I’ll try to follow him on this one. He suggests that the things you spend the most time thinking about is what is positioned in your front room.  While there are times when things in the closet need thrown into the middle of the room so you can sort and organize, often they can be ignored for a good long time and never be missed.  Or, you might come across a treasure like my fish tank in the closet and decide it’s time to bring it out and enjoy it again. Other times you might look around your house and decide that you’ve had the spot light on something that really isn’t pretty and belongs in the closet.

That’s right. You, and only you, have the power to redecorate your house and decide what goes in the front room and what goes in the closet.  If you want to hang on to the grudge toward that person who hurt you, you have that choice. If you would prefer to have something more uplifting in your front room, you have that choice as well. No matter what bad things might have happened in your life that you had no control over, this is one thing you can control.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (New Living Translation)

Broken Dream

She was beautiful.  She was dressed in frilly white with turquoise trim.  Her hair was just so.  Her eyes shone and cheeks blushed.  The moment was magical as the gift was unwrapped. The girl was ecstatic.  Her new dolly was all she’d ever dreamed it would be.

The girl loved her dolly.  She cradled it carefully and spoke softly to her dolly.  She kept the dress white and the hair just right.  Then one day the girl shared her dolly with her friend thinking the friend would value her dolly as she had.  The friend did not care for the dolly or guard it and carelessly left the dolly in a dangerous place where the flood waters swept it away.

Now the dolly lay in the street.  Broken.  Covered in the filth of this world.  Lost.  The little girl cried.

Broken Dream

God says, “I love you, My hurting child.  Come to me.  Bring your broken dreams to Me.  Bring them covered in the filth of this world.  Let Me take them from you.  I’m not going to wipe them off and give them back. No, I’m going to give you what you’ve always wanted but didn’t know yet.  What I have planned for you is better than you ever imagined.  Just come to me with your broken dreams and I will give you rest.”

Big girls dream, too. And the invitation still stands.

It’s Too Bad

I had a patient tell me today that he waited to come in because he was embarrassed.  He thought his foot problem was “too bad” and I might be judgemental about it.  He tried to fix the problem himself before his appointment so it wouldn’t look so bad when I saw him.  That sounds kind of silly since that’s exactly what I’m here for – to help fix the problem.  If a person waits until the problem is fixed, there’s no reason to come see me.  I specialize in “weird” feet or “bad” things.  That’s what I see all day.  “Normal” feet don’t show up in my office.

But it’s not uncommon for people to think their problem is “too bad” to be seen.  I remember a lady I saw during my residency who did the same thing.  She was a diabetic and had had an amputation a couple of years previous on the right leg because of infection.  She started getting a sore spot on a toe of the left foot several months before we saw her.  She didn’t tell anyone about the sore because she was afraid that the left leg would be amputated also.  She thought it was too bad.  She never told.  Her family finally noticed that she never took her shoe or sock off of the left foot, and…her house started to have a peculiar smell.  She ended up in our clinic.  Sadly it was too late and too bad by the time she came to see us.  Her left leg had to be removed in order to save her life.  What a shame!  It all started with a corn that could have been treated very simply if she’d have just come in when it started.

God’s job is to clean us, fill us, and heal us while we visit and walk with Him.  Why do we think we need to do it ourselves before we come to Him?

“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”  When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  Mark 2: 16, 17

Reflections on My Rock Garden

If you haven’t read the last blog “My Rock Garden”, take a minute to go back and read it.  I think there are many morals that could be drawn from the story.

How many times in our lives do we decide we’re going to do something despite words of wisdom being said all around us to the contrary?  Then when we “drop the rock” and we “smash our finger and howl” we turn around to our Heavenly Father and say, “God, why did You let this happen to me?”  Too often.

How many times does God want to save us from the pain of trying to do it ourselves, but loves us so much that He lets us make our own choice?  I believe every time.

How many times when we mess up does God patiently wait and then bring us the “ice bag” to comfort us?  Every time.

How many times would God work in our behalf if we’d just ask Him to take the “rock”?  Most certainly every time we asked.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

“Coming, Father…”

Try Me

“Examine me, O Lord, and test me;  Try my mind and my heart.”  Psalm 26:2

Really, David?  Are you sure?  I’ve heard some stories, King.  Forgetful today?  Maybe I could remind you of a few things?   Remember that whole Bathsheba thing?  Yeah, that one.   I’m thinkin’ you had some thoughts in that mind of yours that weren’t so pure right about then.  And your heart… well, it took you down a bad road, I’d say.  Are you sure you want the Lord Almighty to test and try you?

 “For Your loving kindness is before my eyes,  And I have walked in Your truth.”  Psalm 26:3

Hmmm… a qualifier.  And a good one.  One David was willing to bet his eternal life on.   God’s loving kindness.  The kindness that throws our sins into the depths of the sea.  His kindness that removes our iniquity as far as the east is from the west.  Last I heard, they don’t meet.  And God’s truth.  His truth that says He paid the price.  His truth that says His life covers David’s and mine if we but ask. 

“Dear God Almighty, thank You for Your unfathomable loving kindness.  May it fill my soul.  And may the light of Your truth illuminate my entire being.  May the peace that You bring allow me to both lie down and rest, secure in You alone as sinful but forgiven King David did.”

The Dance

“You formed my inward parts.  You wove me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

“We better throw an extra pinch of determination in this one.  I see what she has coming in life.  She’s going to need it.”

“Good idea, Father.  Long-suffering and endurance will be required for her to run this race and win.”

“Yes, Son.  But You know, the enemy may tempt her to take those traits and turn them against her.  She might begin to think she can do it herself.  She might become stubborn and self-reliant.”

“I know, Father.  It’s a risk.  But I love her so much.  I will give her what she needs.  It will be her choice how she uses it.”

“I love her, too, Son.  I crave the thought of spending eternity with her.  The praise she will give is different than anyone else’s We’ve ever heard.  Each one is special and unique to My ears.  I don’t want to miss out on hers.”

Silence fell on the courts of Heaven.  There was a unanimous deep sigh among the Trinity.

“Son, I know You’re thinking what I’m thinking but I’ll ask anyway.  If she becomes stubborn, independent and self-reliant, would You be willing to pay the price for her?  Would You die for her so that she can live if she chooses to accept Your payment?”

“You know I would, Father.  We’ll need the Spirit to remind her of her options.”

“Consider it done,” breathed the wind of the Spirit.

So she was made and God said it was good and time passed.

“Daddy, help me!” cried out the stubborn, independent, self-reliant one as she looked up from the place she had fallen.

The Creator smiled.  “I’ve been here anxiously hoping you would ask. Now let’s get back to long-suffering and endurance.”  And He spun her around as she held His finger… again.

His smile is just as big every time they dance.   Even though it might be the same tune they danced to the day before, He makes no mention of the repetition.   And each time her feet follow His just a little more closely.

Unfortunately, as I go through life I seem to continually find more “tunes” that require a spin.  Fortunately, God the Father, Son and Spirit have the same conversation about each one.  Before the foundation of the earth was laid, The Plan was made.  Rescue is assured for those who ask.  “Dear God, dance with me today!”